Leading article: The call of common sense

Share
Related Topics

Updated guidance from the Department of Health says that hospitals in England should allow a more liberal use of mobile phones. In fact, many hospitals have already relaxed their prohibitions on the use of mobiles. But this new guidance is still welcome, not least because it should drive another nail into the coffin of the extortionate Patientline (now Hospedia) phone system.

NHS managers have long resisted allowing greater mobile phone use in hospitals, citing the potential annoyance to other patients. It is certainly true that the last thing a convalescent needs is someone in the neighbouring bed endlessly shouting into a phone. But if there is a disturbance, there is no reason why ward matrons cannot put a stop to it. A bit of applied common sense should minimise any disruption.

The ban was an unpalatable merger of the outmoded nannying ethos of the NHS with modern commercial gouging. Not for the first time, patients ended up with the worst of both worlds. Yet while it is good to see this ban dismantled, we should remember that it is by no means the only unfairness inflicted on NHS patients. Just as egregious is the manner of charging for hospital parking. This is expensive, inconvenient and adds to the stress of patients and their families. From the perspective of cancer patients and others who need to make frequent visits to a hospital for treatment it feels like sheer vindictiveness.

The Department of Health points to schemes to enable those on low incomes to avoid the charges, but hospital staff are often loath to advertise these to patients. Nor can we ignore the fact that parking charges add up to a large revenue stream, earning several NHS trusts more than £1m a year.

It is reasonable to encourage people to take public transport rather than drive. But hospital visits are one of the few areas of life where using a car could be said to be a necessity, rather than a choice. The Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly have abolished hospital parking charges. It would not bankrupt the NHS for the Government to do the same in England. And if ministers want a straightforward, popular way to help patients, they have the answer at their fingertips.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

ABAP Developer

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: SAP ABAP Developer - Rugb...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Health & Social CareTeacher - Full time and Part time

£90 - £140 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Sixth for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Hislop the Younger, by-election polling and all about the olden days

John Rentoul
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to 'adapt and survive'

Nigel Edwards
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?