Martin Hannan: Critical? That’s just the parking

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You’re on your way into Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. You are going to visit a close relative who may only have hours to live.

The person you love has been in a car accident. The damage to them is terminal, fatal, mortal. You know their end is nigh. The doctor has said it is the only outcome.

In the rush to see that beloved person in their final agonies, you have come out of the house and jumped into the car without checking whether you have any cash or cards on you.

You get to Little France and the only place to park is one of the dedicated hospital car parks. You take the ticket, leave the car in car park B, then rush in, not thinking for a second about the cost.

You wait beside the bed of your relative – maybe your husband, wife, brother or sister – and watch the machines tell their tale of impending doom.

Eight, nine hours go by, then suddenly it’s all over and the doctor is asking you if the person you loved carried an organ donor card.

You trudge from the hospital, desperate with grief, your eyes filled with hot tears. Then through those tears you study the ticket in your hand, and realise that for spending nine hours and 20 minutes with a dying person – the last ten of them filling in forms allowing the surgeons to use your loved one’s organs – you are about to be hit by a bill for £7 just for the privilege of parking your car on land used by the NHS that your taxes pay for.

You don’t have the money and you don’t know how to get your car out to go home, and in fact you don’t know anything in the midst of your grief. You’re trapped, caught in the abhorrent wickedness of capitalism’s exploitation of sick people and their friends and relatives.

The fact that the ERI is the only hospital in the Lothians still charging for parking is a blot on this capital city’s escutcheon. It is profoundly wrong, immoral, unfair and unjust that if you are attending the ERI as an outpatient or a visitor, you must pay a minimum of £1.30 and a maximum of £7 per day.

Take the bus, you might say, but that misses the point – people parking their cars at every other hospital in the Lothians don’t have to pay, because the SNP Government quite rightly deemed these charges to be a tax on the sick and scrapped them.

It is now nearly six years since parking charges were abolished at every other hospital in Scotland other than Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary and Ninewells in Dundee. What do those and our Royal have in common? Their car park charges are needed to pay the excessive earnings of the disgusting Private Finance Initiative profiteers, companies and consortia who quite literally make oodles of money out of other people’s ill health.

It’s time these detestable and loathsome charges were ended, and the PFI profiteers made to realise the immorality of their ways.

Just because some clever clogs wrote an allegedly unbreakable contract years ago doesn’t mean to say that another clever clogs could find some way of ripping up that contract.

End the scandal of the ERI’s wicked parking charges now.

DON’T EVEN TRY IT . .

This SNP member has only this to say to the biased English-based media – try and demonise Nicola Sturgeon like you did with Alex Salmond and you will fail utterly. We are on your case!

Black comedy has got itself all mixed up

Sometimes I feel like the wee boy in that old Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, telling someone that they are nakedly amiss.

Kill Johnny Glendenning is a terrific black comedy on at the Royal Lyceum Theatre at the moment, but the writer and director have made a hideous mistake, no doubt trying to be too clever in the way that modern theatre often is.

The play is just the wrong way round, with the action-packed first act then explained by the second act. Big mistake – the first act should be the second act, and vice-versa.

Loyal diners keep top pub on track

There are a lot of people who say that we moan too much about roadworks in and around Edinburgh, and they don’t really cause the sort of disruption that I and many others claim.

Well, they should ask my friends at The Cockatoo restaurant at Millerhill whose lives have been made a misery for many months by the Borders Railway and attendant utility company works.

Thankfully, the Glass family’s loyal customers have kept coming back, despite the inconvenience, and the message is very much that The Cockatoo is staying open, and all are welcome to one of the friendliest pub restaurants in the country.

Canny Hibees sit on defence

There I was in the boardroom of Hibernian FC, out at their excellent Ormiston facility, and what should I see but a coaster with a Saltire and the clear Yes message on it.

Just when I thought we had an indy scoop, a colleague flipped the coaster over and on the other side it had a No logo.

And they say the Hibs defence is often caught in two minds . . .