Tweet I bet that Ben Bradshaw is glad right now that he was reshuffled out of the Health Department in June, given that the Health Secretary has announced today that car parking charges will be abolished in English hospitals, following the lead set by Wales and already followed by Scotland. If he was still at health, he might well have found today's speech by Andy Burnham to be a bit too much to swallow.
When Wales set the pace, Bradshaw claimed it would be at the expense of reducing waiting times.
When Scotland followed suit, he said that it was not a "sensible use of limited resources". He also seemed to be saying that it was not a decision which could be taken centrally, since "In England, hospital car parking charges are decided locally by individual trusts to cover the cost of running and maintaining a car park".
Twelve months on, and the English Health Minister declares to the Labour Party conference that it's not only possible; it's both desirable and a priority for use of resources. Amazing how an impending election concentrates the mind and enables objections to be overcome.
There's a wider lesson to be borne in mind as well. When a Labour Minister says that something can't be done, (s)he is not necessarily telling the whole truth.
Reflections on Scotland's Referendum. - In the end, the Scottish voters decided by a more comfortable margin than we expected that they preferred their nation to remain part of the United Kingdom...
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