Well we have a coalition Government, unkindly referred to by some as the ConDem party, but I’m optimistic that they can make a difference. Yes I know, I can here you shout don’t be so naïve, but lets wait and see – who knows they may even scrap some NHS targets! But there is one thing troubling me - car parking.

This is a real dilemma. We provide huge amounts of car parking for our visitors and staff. Is that right? Should we be encouraging people to use their cars? Why not get rid of all the parking and let people use public transport? Or walk (good for health – less people ill –quieter hospitals – no need for parking….) Some hospitals in London don’t provide any parking. The trouble is our ‘big society’ (sorry another political reference –I’ll stop now) considers it a vital part of who we are – the right to independent travel. I can see that, in fact I would almost certainly put myself in that category, but, as I said earlier, this is where we find ourselves inextricably hooked to the horns of a dilemma. Let’s try and put the case for and against cars and car parking. For: Less cars equals less pollution. Fuel, tax and insurance are expensive. Walking and cycling improves health. No car parks – less drain on resources. Against: Society expects. It’s very convenient. Public Transport often less reliable and it doesn’t start or finish at my front door. Keeps garages employed. Result – I’m not sure.

So, do we go completely green and get rid of any reliance on cars? Seems a little unfair on those that have cars or need them due to their frailty. But what do we do if car parking revenue is less than the cost? Do we take money away from patient services to cover the shortfall or should we put up our charges? The previous Government was consulting on moving to a system of free parking at hospitals, similar to what happens in other parts of the UK, but if that happens and there is no compensating increase in hospital resources , car parks will become a financial burden and are likely to be got rid of.

This feels similar to the smoking issue – should people be allowed to smoke on our sites (the answer is no, but lots of people ignore the ban and smoke anyway). It’s not illegal to smoke or drive your car – in fact you can do both at the same time unless your on the phone! I don’t think we need to ban cars but nor do I think services to patients should suffer – therefore I think we should be prepared to pay the price, whatever it is. Now, where’s the keys to my bike – I remember, in the boot of the car…….