My friend, a Ward Clerk, with a relative at present in St James Hospital, Leeds, told me that there is only one central switchboard now, based at Leeds General to cover both hospitals. Consequently if you phone up you may expect to wait several minutes to be answered at all. At the moment – and for the last 2 days – the Ward my friend’s relative is in has a fault on the phone which means it appears constantly engaged and nobody can get through to the Ward. As it is weekend, the switchboard say that the fault won’t be attended to until Monday. Therefore unless a patient has a mobile (and charger) then they must wonder why no relative has enquired about them. My friend could, of course, phone to the one by her relative’s bed – at a cost of 50p per minute. Yes, that’s right, 50p a minute for someone who may not be very well off and might want to have an actual conversation to reassure themselves and cheer up the patient. How long before the NHS starts charging patients for food/drink/bandages/drugs? Already there is a system for bringing patients requiring surgery into the hospital the same morning they are to be operated on. This means that someone who is very unwell must be up around 5.00am to phone the hospital by 6.00am to be told if there is a bed available and that they can actually come in that day. The system means that someone else, admitted during the previous evening/overnight, may be occupying the bed already despite some highly-paid surgeon presumably then twiddling their thumbs, having expected to be operating? Some Wards, as I have been told, are craftily getting their patients in the previous evening so that they are actually occupying a bed for the morning of their surgery. Dear God… get yourselves private insurance people if you can possibly afford it. Unfortunately Rider cannot but hopefully a little bit in the Building Society might help. There is something deeply wrong – shown in just these two examples of what goes on. Don’t get me started on the exhorbitant parking charges – you can’t claim some of the charge for being delayed past your appointment time. Money making scam…go into providing telephone services and parking for patients/distraught relatives …. make yourself a fortune. Did I say that there is a proposal to make the central switchboard voice recognition only? God help you if you don’t speak the Queen’s English.