Last issue regular PosAbility columnist Dan White discussed his thoughts on Saving the NHS and the ridiculous parking charges that many hospitals expect people to pay.

I adore the NHS. Its concrete walls have protected our family and millions more over the years. This January will see Emily have her first operation in a while and I thought it timely to look back at everything that happened last year around our beloved health system, mainly the lumbering beast of Brexit, car parking and the whispers of privatisation.

The discord Brexit has caused, was, to parents like us, avoidable. For instance, in 2018, the NHS was told to stockpile medicines to ensure adequate supply to all we need in event of a no deal. Emily, like thousands of children, rely on pharmaceuticals and trying to eek out any information about the flow of medicines has been met with media sensationalism and a lack of guidance. To subject us and our children to rumour and fear is nothing short of cruel. I hope when this issue is distributed all our worries have been banished and sense has rained over stupidity.

The NHS runs on diversity and last year the voice of panic around immigration increased. It fills me with horror that through Brexit many wonderful staff have left the system. If reports are to be believed, there will be a massive shortfall of care workers and specialists by 2020 as tighter immigration rules bite. It smacks of surgical suicide that the very backbone of our healthcare is under threat through lack of numbers and toxic xenophobic attitudes from some. All the staff, regardless of colour or creed have been and continue to be exceptionally marvelous.

Outside of the bubble of Brexit, the costs of hospital parking came around again. It seems every year there is a price hike, with some London car parks earning more per hour than someone on the minimum wage. I wouldn’t have an issue with this if all the money went back into the system, however, some car parks are run by private firms, even charging staff to park. When our children have appointments, or are rushed in by us, the last thing on our minds should be the horrendous charges upon leaving. Another aspect of hospital parking is the lack in numbers of disabled bays. Is it just me or is a hospital the logical place you will see a huge number of disabled people?

The spectre of privatisation was floating around again in 2018. I think our government should realise that not everything should be there to make a profit. Invest, and as a suggestion, take the NHS out of government hands and put in the care of a cross party group. This way there will be no snap changes every five years and thought, and more importantly, time can be put into finally making the NHS better and stronger.

With a proposed investment to put a Changing Place in every hospital this year, let’s leave the NHS alone. Let it do its job without media and government intrusion. The NHS is deserving of care, just like our children.

Dan White | @DeptOfAbility

Dan is dad to Emily who is 12 years old and has spina bifida. He is a passionate disability rights campaigner and you can read his column in PosAbility every issue.

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