At the end of the 1960’s/early 1970’s I was on holiday and took part in a ‘happening’, a last flowering of the counterculture of the 60’s. It was organised by a maverick artist and run by students from the local art college. It perplexed most people, as a young kid I loved it.
There were a series of rather provocative set pieces; I remember someone having a conversation down a pipe with an imaginary person ‘buried’ in the sandy beach. There were arty installations. It was great.
Best of all, in an era when ‘bingo’ was a mass entertainment, they had a bingo session on the beach. Free cards were handed out and almost fought for. About 50 people (including me) were avidly marking off the numbers as they were called by a solemn man in a dinner jacket and bow tie. My excitement mounted as I noticed that my card was filling up really quickly. I didn’t notice how hushed it had all got.
The last number was called and after a nanosecond looking at my card – I was leaping up and shouting ‘BING-GO!!.
The problem was that everybody else was doing exactly the same – we all had the same numbers.
I found it very funny – when I got over my initial disappointment. But a lot of other people (even though it was all free) got quite angry. Umbrellas (in those far off days people went to the beach well prepared for an English summer) were waived in anger at the bingo caller.
It all came back to me today, as it does every day I visit my poor old Mum at Wexham Hospital in Slough. Visiting starts at 2pm and there is a stampede of cars for a space like the race for a claim in a landrush.
We all drive in through the automatic barriers, taking a pay and display ticket from the machine. The only problem is that they always let in about 40 more cars than there are parking spaces for. So, we drive round and round an increasingly gridlocked carpark until in the end, one by one – we give up and leave.
It’s obviously a daily ritual because when I press the panic button on the exit barrier, the long-suffering controller of the car park just lets me out without paying.
Meanwhile on the road outside, there is a small amount of free parking – today there were three parking enforcement officers prowling like sharks, waiting to catch anyone who overstayed the time limit.
So all this week I haven’t been able to buy a parking space, had to park miles away and walk far too far to get in.
The private contractor of this fiasco has a motto on the barrier machine;
Make a difference
So I checked out some information about the parking and where the money goes, the interesting bits are towards the end of this Freedom of Information request made by someone more annoyed than me, last year.
What is most relevant (apart from the lack of any mention of the amount of profit made from us by the private contractor) is that the rest of the money that staff and patients have to pay actually goes to paying for security at the Hospital.
And there we were thinking that all that money went to help patients. I suspect that similar applies to every hospital.
Date: 9 Oct 2012
FOI Ref No: 919
We are writing in response to your FOI request dated 21 September.
Taking your questions in turn;
1.Please provide us with a list of your Trust’s car parks (including those for each hospital within the Trust) and the charges for each one.
The car parks are at both Heatherwood Hospital and Wexham Park Hospital. The charges are the same for both sites.
Up to 1 hour £1.00
Up to 2 hours £2.00
Up to 3 hours £4.00
Up to 5 hours £5.00
Over 5 hours £10.00
Free parking will be provided for:
· Mothers of babies in the Neonatal Unit who are coming in frequently to feed;
· One parent of any child in for Haematology or Oncology treatment;
· Patients attending hospital on a daily basis for Chemotherapy or other treatment;
· One parent who has to stay overnight with a child.
Half price parking will be provided for:
· One parent of any child in hospital for longer than 48 hours;
· One relative of any patient in ITU.
In each case only one validation per patient is allowed (i.e. for the mother or the father of a child whose stay is longer than 48 hours).
It is recognised by the Trust that exceptional circumstances outside those listed above may arise. In these events a judgment will be made by the Head of Security or the Security Manager in consultation with the ward or departmental manager.
The Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Foundation Trust follows the Department of Health (2006) guidance on income generation. Revenue received from car parking pays for the security services and police within the Trust necessary for the protection of patients, visitors and staff.
1.Please also clarify who is responsible for managing each of the car parks; if not the Trust or individual hospital(s) please give the name of the Company/Individual.
The Trust manage the car parks but the Trust has contracted CP Plus who is responsible for the day to day running of the car parks and security
1.Please clarify when the fees for each car park were introduced.
Patient parking was introduced in approx 1994/5. Staff parking charges were introduced in 2011
(section on previous lower fees edited out by me)
1.Are fees the same for staff, visitors and patients? If not, please provide a breakdown of the different charges applicable to those three groups, including details of any discounts made available to patients, visitors or staff.
Patients and visitors charges are the same, documented on above (and on the Trust public website). Any discounts are also as stated above and on the Trust public website. Staff who are granted car parking permits pay 1% of salary.
1.How much money has been generated in total, per year, since January 2009 from parking fees paid by patients, visitors and staff, for using the Trust’s car park(s)?
The revenue raised from staff parking in 2011-12 was £559k (plus £93K from bus revenue). The revenue from patient parking was £742k in 2011-12
1.If the car park is not managed by the Trust or the individual hospital(s), how much of the total money generated from parking fees paid by patients, visitors and staff, was paid to the Company/Individual managing the car park?
Staff parking fees were spent in the following ways;
£437k of the money raised from staff car parking permits was spent in the following ways;
Staffing, operation and Management of the Travel Plan office
Bus service WP1
Two full time security officers in the car parks
CCTV and camera maintenance for the staff car parks
Capital works associated with the car parks e.g. improved lighting and CCTV, staff showers for cyclists, cycle stands, lining of car parks
Changes to car parking areas associated with the travel plan
We also assist staff who sign up for a salary sacrifice bus pass a contribution for local bus service/routes via the organisation that administers the bus pass service, so that individuals payments are more closely in line with car parking charges.
The differential between what is spent on the above services and what is raised by way of staff car parking permits is placed in reserve for major capital spends such as replacement of the barriers systems, re-design to maximise parking spaces etc, these schemes only occur every few years and we build a fund to pay for them.
Patient parking fees were spent in the following ways
The Trust has a contract with CP Plus to manage security and the car parking on both sites. Patient parking fees pay for this contract and for additional security that covers the whole hospital as well as the car park. It also pays for payment machines and maintenance of car parking barriers etc.
Well I’m sure that cheers us all up.
(a don’t stop till you drop production)