Observer Comment: Is it morally right to seek more payment from those using hospital services?

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A HIKE in hospital car parking fees is bound to provoke a tide of complaints - and rightly so.

It isn’t a case of quibbling over a few pennies for those who need treatment there several times a week, or patients’ families who try and visit regularly to keep up the spirits of their ill loved-ones.

A price jump of 18 per cent, representing more than four times the rate of inflation, equates to pounds coming out of their purse week-on-week.

That all adds up, especially for those who are elderly or long-term sick.

It’s not that we don’t have the utmost sympathy for those whose job it is to balance the trust’s books.

For months we have featured the hospital trust’s mounting debt problems.

This week alone we reveal how the trust has paid thousands of pounds in appeal charges to the firm that was responsible for managing parking at the Conquest, and how it is £4.7 million in the red despite a hand-out of more than £1million.

But is it morally right to seek more payment from those using hospital services? Especially bearing in mind these people are sometimes the least able to afford the extra expense.

THE cost of studying for a degree in Hastings is about to soar.

What a shame -just when we had started to trumpet our higher education establishments. Only last month Princess Anne came to admire what we have on offer.

It is difficult to see how charging maximum tuition fees won’t result in a fall in applications as students are scared away from university for fear of being saddled with massive debts.

We must assume that UCH and the college have done their sums and the take-up rate for courses will still be high enough.

But even our MP, who voted for the increase to tuition fees, seemed surprised that it will soon cost the same to study in Hastings, as at Oxford or Cambridge Universities.

Let’s hope we aren’t pricing ourselves out of the market.

WHETHER you’re throwing yourself into the spirit of the royal wedding - or considering throwing the television out the window - there’s no escaping the fact that today’s ceremony marks the high point of a media frenzy.

From every clothes shop Kate - sorry Catherine or Princess William of Wales as she is to become - has even glanced at over the past few months to minute details of the catering plans for the hard core stragglers still standing at the end of the reception, this young couple has felt the full force of the public spotlight.

The Observer wishes them well, and hopes they have a long and happy life together.

We’re sure that everyone planning a right royal knees up will have a terrific time, and if you’re completely sick of the whole spectacle already, well, just enjoy the long weekend.