The Sentinel leader column: Parking fees are a disgrace
T HERE is a whiff of similarity between the financial problems suffered by the banking world and those of the city's university hospital. For a couple of years we have watched slightly bemused as the hospital has apparently gone from one financial crisis to another. Now we are told the hospital has a debt of staggering proportions, £27m. You would be entitled to wonder how this has happened? The problem is that no-one really seems to know. All we see is that there's a human cost, with the resignations of chief executive Julia Bridgewater, who leaves today and the finance director John Maddison, who left a few weeks ago. And to resolve the financial crisis the authorities have the nerve to employ an interim chief executive at £811-a-day. Therefore, Jim Birrell's annual salary will weigh-in at a hefty £211,000-a-year compared with Mrs Bridgewater's paltry £170,000-a-year. And still we have the £27m debt.
S o how can we compare the hospital debt crisis with that of the banks? Simple. It was us, the taxpayer, who bailed out the banks. And while the bankers continue to sip fine champagne we face cuts in the standard of our living. Similarly, while Mr Birrell enjoys his large salary we are asked to pay more for parking. It's a stealth tax to help pay for the debt that in reality has nothing to do with us. Like the banks, we are having to pay for perceived incompetence at the highest level. The hospital says it would rather spend more on patient care than car parks. We would all agree. But it's too easy to use this emotional argument against us, probably cooked up by some over-paid PR executive. The reality is that the hospital has failed to deal with its spending. How on earth can you just slip into £27m debt without anyone raising the alarm? The car parking fees increase is a disgraceful tax on the less well off. Hospital managers should hang their heads in shame.
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