The Royal Surrey County Hospital has been sold to car park operator NCP in the first deal of its kind, although other such sales might soon become commonplace if all goes well according to City financial experts. From March all patients at the Guildford Infirmary will face the prospect of feeding bedside meters at a rate of £25 per day for the duration of their illnesses, with outpatients attending clinics paying a fee upon arrival at reception desks and then topping up hourly if their appointment is running late.
A team of wardens will be employed to monitor the new arrangements, with those patients staying beyond their allocated times being wheeled off the ward into adjacent corridors then transferred onto trolleys until they or their relatives stock up on credit again. A spokesman for for the trust said, ‘we see this as an exciting opportunity to reform hospital stays root and branch, as it will actively help to flush out work-shy and shiftless malingerers. No-one will want to stay with us if it’s costing them their hard earned cash, and bed-blocking will become a thing of the past. That’s the beauty of the free market in action.’
Health Minister Jeremy Hunt is said to be watching developments with considerable interest. A departmental source commented: ‘This is exciting stuff and rolling the concept out nationally just may be the answer to this never-ending Health Service conundrum.