SIR – I endorse Charles Moore’s views contrasting the bad way in which car parking works at NHS hospitals and the great care provided by staff.
I travelled 21 miles to Queen’s Hospital, Burton-on-Trent, with my granddaughter and spent 15 minutes trying to park before accepting defeat and leaving. There are no barriers in or out so motorists keep entering an already full car park, causing gridlock.
The appointment letter advised allowing an hour for parking. Talk about planning for failure.
SIR – Part of the problem is that NHS hospital car parks have been outsourced to the lowest-cost bidder.
I experience the same problems all the time, with one exception. The Christie in Manchester is an exemplary hospital. Its multi-storey car park is free for 30 minutes and £1.50 thereafter. Why can’t they all be like that?
SIR – Yes, we have free parking at all hospitals in Wales (Letters, May 15), but this does not guarantee a space.
I live an hour’s drive from both Glangwili hospital, Carmarthen, and Bronglais, Aberystwyth, and have had to return home without making a necessary pastoral call because the car parks have been overflowing, with cars in every possible space. It is an often expressed complaint locally.
I would rather pay to have a large enough car park to ensure availability. Lincoln hospital is a good example of a large accessible car park which levies a fee, but where I always found a space.
Rev Marty Presdee
SIR – Parking fees are an expense of motoring, like tax, insurance and fuel. Car parks cost money to construct and maintain. The NHS is allegedly short of funds, although having proper administration and avoiding wasteful and ineffective procedures could reduce the pressures enormously.
Why then do people expect that the NHS should provide parking for all at no cost, increasing financial pressures on the provision of treatment?
J P G Bolton
Bishops Lydeard, Somerset
SIR – Only one of the three hospitals in Leicester has “Pay on exit”. The other two put the parker in a quandary. How long will my appointment take and how much should I pay for?
Since waiting times for appointments vary considerably, this presents patients with a dilemma. So they pay over the odds, which is unfair.
SIR – Free parking is open to abuse, although there are ways to circumvent fees for those in need. The main point of Charles Moore’s column was surely that, if fees are imposed, then the system should function. His was a severe criticism of the management of the hospital involved.
Dr John Garside
Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Mrs May’s departure
SIR – What FTSE-100 board would continue to allow its CEO to determine corporate strategy following their announcement that they would be resigning some time this year (on a date of their choosing), while at the same time the company’s shareholders and customers were overwhelmingly against such a strategy?
SIR – Theresa May is trying to stay until the end of July (report, May 15). Does she talk to no members of the public nor realise the strength of opposition to her?
She will resign after the elections on May 23, if she has any regard for the public and the future of the Tory party, which she has effectively destroyed.
SIR – Do Conservative voters really believe that the country is best represented by Nigel Farage – someone only marginally less obnoxious than his friend and fellow bigot Donald Trump?
Assad’s tyrannical rule
SIR – It is depressing to see from the signatories to the letter (May 14) on the situation in Syria that the tyrannical regime of President Assad has support.
The tactics of that regime have included the bombardment of hospitals and the use of chemical weapons, which most view as crimes against humanity. We can vouch that hospitals run by the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which we have supported for eight years, do not allow terrorists to operate from them. Nonetheless, 13 of these hospitals have been destroyed by Syrian and Russian attacks in the last 11 days.
We are concerned for the plight of three million civilians trapped among approximately 10,000 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters. Assad has said that he will kill HTS and the civilians. We need to work out a way in which the terrorists may be defeated and the civilians saved. This may require “muscular” humanitarian intervention.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon
Professor David Nott
Directors, Doctors Under Fire
Rules governing the prosecution of old soldiers
SIR – It is good that our excellent new Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, is so quickly attending to the long-running sore of repeat investigations of veterans (“New law to block veterans’ prosecutions”, report, May 15).
She has accepted that there have to be rare exceptions, rather than a blanket ban, but for legislation to be effective two features are needed.
First, the only exception allowed should be the emergence of compelling new evidence. Allowing “exceptional circumstances”, beyond those based on new evidence, risks opening the door to a range of threats, from social media onslaughts by special-interest groups through to whispering campaigns by legal vested interests.
Secondly, the yardstick for judging the strength of new evidence should lie with the attorney general, not the courts. The Government decides when to put service personnel into harm’s way, and the Government and its legal advisers fix the rules of engagement which determine when lethal force may be used. So, the Government’s senior legal adviser, the attorney general, should decide whether new evidence meets the test to allow prosecution.
Unlike the courts, as the person ultimately responsible for all state prosecutions, he or she is answerable to Parliament. The alternative risks putting gallant veterans at the mercy of activist judges.
Sir Julian Brazier
SIR – Laudable though Penny Mordaunt’s intentions are to protect service personnel from inappropriate criminal investigations, particularly historical ones, her proposal still misses the crucial aspect that relates to today’s ex-service personnel and Northern Ireland.
The argument appears to hinge on a fear of arousing further sectarian discontent. This means that the then enemies of the state have been granted amnesties, but the state is too weak to protect its own. My discontent, and that of countless other service personnel, remains unanswered.
Lt Col Charles Holden (retd))
SIR – The World Health Assembly should be a forum for global cooperation to eradicate disease and spread good practice. Regrettably, it does not cover all parts of the world, with Taiwan set to be blocked from participating in this month’s meeting.
Recent pandemics such as Ebola highlight the need for all developed economic powers to offer assistance. The potential devastating spread of pandemics means that no territory should remain outside of international cooperation. Taiwan, as the 22nd largest global economy, can make substantial contributions and should be included for the sake of global health coverage.
Taiwan had been permitted to participate as an observer for the eight years leading to 2017. That should once again be the case.
The World Health Organisation’s constitution describes health as a fundamental right of every human being. It should apply this principle without fear or favour and reinstate Taipei’s invitation to its annual forum.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary General of Nato
Chairman, Taiwan-France Friendship Group of the French National Assembly
Nigel Evans MP (Con)
Chairman, British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group
Former Danish Health Minister
Hans van Baalen MEP
Party President, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Chairman, Parliamentary Friendship Group Berlin-Taipei
Septic tank catch
SIR – I believe that as long as the old septic tank is working well and there is no unusually high water table, that tank can remain in use (Letters, May 15).
This is certainly the way the law is interpreted in this very rural neighbourhood. However, if the property is sold then there will be a legal obligation to replace the old septic system with a new “matrix type water treatment system”.
SIR – As negotiations for the sale of our house were coming to an end a few weeks ago, our purchaser’s solicitor raised the question of what I intended to do about our septic tank.
I have subsequently been told by the Environment Agency that all septic tanks have to conform to the 2015 Binding Regulations by January 1 2020, and that I may not now sell my house before that date without ensuring its adherence to the regulations. The costs I have been quoted range from £7,000 to £13,000.
In this rural part of Devon many people have septic tanks or cesspits. Not a single one of our acquaintances with either has had any notification of the imminence of the deadline, or how to conform to it, much to their surprise or disbelief. I suspect it was news to our solicitor too.
Cracking good eggs, freshly laid in Normandy
SIR – Further to your article (May 4) on how a bird’s diet contributes to the colour of its egg yolks, for many years we bought our eggs from a tiny smallholding close to our holiday home in Normandy.
The chickens were (very) free range and were fed entirely on table scraps and odds and ends from the owners’ tiny market garden. The colour of the yolks was extraordinary – an amazing, almost lurid, brilliant orange – and the flavour of the eggs was exceptional. They have been our benchmark eggs ever since, but nothing we have bought elsewhere has ever come up to that standard.
SIR – The Earl of Wemyss (Letters, May 15) asks for a name for this Parliament. Once this Parliament is gone, please, let us never speak of it again.
Dr Mark Betteney
University of Greenwich
One, two, three – up!
SIR – I think we start referring to “having a fall” (Letters, May 15) at the same age as we find it impossible to rise from a sofa or low chair without uttering an “aargh” sound.