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England is in the slow lane on car parking charges at NHS hospitals Healthcare assistant Abigail Smith has set up two online petitions calling for free car parking at all hospitals for NHS staff (Reflections July 30). Her petition on the website 38 Degrees (tinyurl.com/qyyz4wo) has secured more than 22,000 signatures. The e-petition on the government’s website (epetitions. direct.gov.uk/petitions/66694) has more than 19,000 signatures. As this e-petition has received more than 10,000 signatures, the Department of Health has been forced to respond. It defends the charges: ‘Providing parking for staff is a cost to the NHS organisation. The direct costs of providing parking include equipment such as barriers, payment machines, and signage, lighting, insurance, security, administration and maintenance. ‘Car parking policies cannot be set nationally. NHS organisations make decisions locally about the provision of car parking to patients, visitors and staff to best meet local requirements.’ The statement fails to mention the huge profits made on car parking charges or that the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland have abolished the charges. If Wales and Scotland can do this, England can surely fall in line. As nurse Stephanie Cumming writes: ‘I often have to park off-site because I cannot afford to pay extortionate car parking charges. But walking back to your car after a long shift, especially in the winter when it is dark, can be dangerous and frightening.’ The e-petition is still open and will be debated in parliament should it pass the 100,000 signature threshold. Sally Harding, by email

SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGNING WORK OF LAMBETH KEEP OUR NHS PUBLIC Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) is campaigning to resist and reverse the 34  august 6 :: vol 28 no 49 :: 2014

privatisation and commercialisation of the health service. We want to restore the NHS to full public ownership and control, and to promote its future development as a truly public service – publicly funded, publicly provided, publicly accountable and available to all. We at the Lambeth group of KONP would like you to support our campaign. Our next meeting takes place on Thursday August 21 at 7pm, upstairs at the Phoenix, 348 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AR. A People’s March for the NHS, inspired by the 1936 Jarrow crusade, will follow in the original march’s famous footsteps from August 16 to September 6. We will march 300 miles, through 23 towns and cities, all the way to Parliament (www.999callfornhs.org.uk).

Lambeth KONP and our banner are planning to join the march on Saturday September 6 from Holborn to Parliament Square in London. If you want to join, please email us at [email protected] and register at 999callfornhs.org.uk/register-yoursupport/4583611134 Finally, we will have a stall at the Stockwell Festival in Larkhall Park on Saturday September 13. Please let us know if you can join us. Gay Lee, secretary, Lambeth KONP

SAFE STAFFING NEEDS TO FOCUS ON PATIENT NEEDS, NOT JUST NUMBERS Safe staffing levels for hospital wards must take into account patient acuity, not just patient capacity (Editorial and News July 16). It is a pointless exercise to simply speak of a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio. How can we make a judgement


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Support the campaigning work of Lambeth keep our NHS public.

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