PLEASE keep your letters to 250 words maximum giving your name, address and daytime telephone number - even on emails. Email: letters@swindonadvertiser.co.uk. Write: Swindon Advertiser, Unit 1 and 2 Richmond House, Edison Park, Swindon, SN3 3RB. Phone: 01793 501806.

Anonymity is granted only at the discretion of the editor, who also reserves the right to edit letters.

Free parking not a right

In your article and Editorial (SA March 9) the question of free parking for patients, visitors and staff was raised.

There are several different issues that warrant further comment.

First, car parking charges were first introduced, locally, at Princess Margaret Hospital when they were owned and managed by the (then) Swindon Health Authority (SHA).

This was done to stop people who worked in the town using it as free all-day parking and then taking the bus into town – thus making it difficult for patients, visitors and staff to find a space.

So, the present charges are not due to private companies managing estates instead of hospital trusts as claimed by a representative of Keep our NHS Public.

Second, these charges are not a way to “cash in on the sick”.

Patients and visitors do not have to travel to hospital by car (though I admit that public transport provision is less than desirable).

In many other towns and cities where hospitals are in the city centre there is no parking for patients or staff.

Also, as mentioned in the report, there are concessionary passes available for particularly needy types of patient or visitor.

Third, so far as staff are concerned, in most other jobs car-parking (free or paid for) is not available, though at the Great Western Hospital in particular, I admit that staff would have a problem if they had to rely on public transport or public car parks!

Certainly, parking at GWH can be a problem (especially at busy times) for patients, visitors and staff.

The present barrier system, with payment on leaving, is an improvement on the previous one.

But let us not claim that it is a ‘right’ to have free parking at hospitals.

By keeping the charges comparable with other public car parks in the borough, the GWH is preventing their abuse by people not associated with he hospital.

Malcolm Morrison, Retired Orthopaedic Surgeon, Prospect Hill, Swindon

Our island character

There is a programme on BBC2 called Saving Lives at Sea. The RNLI are shown in action saving lives on a daily basis around our islands shores.

These selfless individuals teamwork, courage and tenacity shame that lot at Westminster.

They are all volunteers and do the job because of dedication to duty to those in peril on the sea.

They do not get paid either. MPs take note .Whether they are in bed, in the pub at a wedding or another social event. When their bleeper goes off these brave men and women immediately drop everything and head for their lifeboat. Many times in gale force winds and treacherous sea conditions .

Sadly many have lost their lives in their endeavour to save others.

But many people owe their lives to the RNLI crews that surround our island.

I visit the South Coast every summer and I always make a point to put a few pounds in their collection boxes. As the holiday season approaches I am sure many of our readers do the same .

The lifeboat crews epitomise the strength, determination, dedication and bravery of the British island character.

Teamwork is essential in the best interests of the people they attempt to save.

Palace of Westminster, I hope you are all listening.

All monies to run such a vast organisation are brought in through the kindness of the British public.

Another trait in our islanders’ character,

Bill Williams, Merlin Way, Covingham, Swindon

Letters to the Editor: What do you think?

Do you have an opinion on our reader letters? Get in touch.

Add your contribution now By uploading a contribution, for use online and in print, you accept our contributor terms. You will either own or have permission to use anything you provide.