NHS hospitals have taken advantage of the government scrapping its plans to dispense with car parking charges. In some cases, individual hospitals have increased parking charges by as much as 150%.
One such example is St Moribund's Hospital, which seems intent on taking income generation to hitherto unknown levels. The hospital's Chief Executive, Basil Thoroughbred-Scrote, defended his policy on car parking charges, saying "This hospital costs 80 million quid a year to run. We have estimated that we can earn 5 or 6 million quid by charging patients and other hospital visitors for parking".
What Mr Thoroughbred-Scrote did not elaborate on was the following:
*Patients now pay 10 quid an hour to park.
*Parking meters outside the Emergency Department charge ambulances in periods of 15 minutes.
*Disabled parking bays attract a 'convenience' premium and are charged at a higher rate.
*Parking charges apply to all cars, ambulances, hearses, delivery lorries, disability scooters, wheel chairs and trolleys.
*All hospital roads are now a controlled parking zone, with double yellow lines everywhere.
*Illegally parked cars are towed away and auctioned off to try to offset the hospital's ever increasing deficit.
*For an additional charge of 30 quid, security officers will stop local kids stealing your car's wheels and stereo.
Patients and other hospital users are outraged by these developments. Mrs Edith Flatus told our reporter, "My husband Stan used to come here every day for kidney dialysis. When they put the charges up, we couldn't afford it and stopped coming. Stan's funeral was last Thursday".
Another patient, Albert Colon, was equally displeased. He told us, "I came here last week with chest pain. The doc saw me and told me I needed to be admitted. I was on a trolley for 8 hours in the corridor and I got a parking ticket for not being in a marked parking bay.
Eric Embalmer, from New Horizons Funeral Directors, was also scathing of the new charges. He said, "We were called to come and collect one of our most valued customers, who had sadly passed away again. There were no parking spaces so we parked on the yellow lines outside the mortuary. We were only gone for 5 minutes, but when we got back we found the hearse had been wheelclamped. It took 4 hours to get the clamp removed and we missed the poor bastard's funeral. You can't be too careful in this game, it's not often you get repeat business".
Mr Thoroughbred-Scrote would not answer further questions, as we were standing on double yellow lines.