Penalising the patients

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:30 10 June 2010

Whatever the rationale of charging people who visit Exmouth Hospital by car, it does not seem reasonable that this should also apply to those visiting their GP at the Claremont Grove Medical Centre (Journal, February 5) Because people can use cars, they a

Whatever the rationale of charging people who visit Exmouth Hospital by car, it does not seem reasonable that this should also apply to those visiting their GP at the Claremont Grove Medical Centre (Journal, February 5)Because people can use cars, they are now willing to bring poorly children or their elderly unwell relatives to the surgery for appointments rather than (as used to happen when I was a child) the GP having to make a home visit.This is obviously a more efficient use of GPs' time because they only have to make home visits to those who are really too ill to go to the surgery.Imposing car-parking charges will penalise patients for something that enables the NHS to work more efficiently.Most people who are attending the GP do not need to park for two hours and will resent paying £1.40 for a short visit. This will no doubt encourage some to park in the residential roads around the medical centre, causing more inconvenience to those who live there.If this policy is being introduced to prevent abuse rather than as a surreptitious means of raising money, it must be possible to devise a free ticketing system that shows how long cars have been parked.There could be automatic fines after two hours unless the drivers concerned could prove they had a genuine medical reason for continuing to park over that time. There is current a strong bond of trust between the public and those who provide their GP medical services. In maintaining this trust, it is important that ordinary people do not feel they are being exploited, especially in the current economic situation.Jenny Budden,49A Cranford Avenue, Exmouth.

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