Dying to park?
October 1, 2013 5 Comments
One of the perks of being a councillor is that one is issued with a permit that allows free use of car parks, parking meters, and residential parking areas whilst conducting one’s councillor duties. Not all councillors take advantage of this (some do not even drive) but I find it essential as my ward, covering the town centre as it does, has special parking problems.
I realise I am fortunate to have this, and prior to my election had to get by as my residents have to.
I have twice, in my time as a councillor, been made aware that health staff do not enjoy this privilege. I was told by a nurse (whose role largely involved visiting patients in their homes) that she had, on at least one occasion, had to abandon attempts to visit a patient because she could find nowhere to park. In a very real sense, a resident’s health was threatened by the parking disaster that is central Southend.
Whilst I can accept that the above example may be rare, if it was me being denied a visit because a nurse or doctor could not park I would be less than happy. Our health is our most precious resource.
Health staff who incur parking fines have to pay these themselves, even if incurred whilst carrying out their duties.
I have had recent conversations with residents who want residents parking schemes. These present a challenge, especially if a resident does not subscribe to the scheme. These residents, if visited by health care workers, will not be able to offer them visitor permits. It would indeed be an irony if those near to the hospital, for instance, were denied health care by the scheme in place there.
This must be wrong. Spending time finding a parking space, and then whatever walk is necessary once parked if this is not close to the patient’s home is a waste of precious time; it is an even bigger waste if many minutes are spent in fruitless pursuit of somewhere to park. We are creating a situation that threatens our health, inconveniences our district nurses and the like, and is angering residents.
I believe this impacts doctors, nurses, and carers, and only exempts those in emergency vehicles. With healthcare being increasingly delivered in homes this situation, which is likely quite rare at the moment, can only worsen. We must provide a way to allow these important people to serve their patients properly, and to not be out-of-pocket doing so.