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Online editor's blog: One week, two hospitals

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Nursing Times online editor Gabriel Fleming on protests and pregnancy

Last week I attended two NHS facilities for two very different reasons. First, I was at Kingston Hospital to accompany our reporter Louise Tweddell to a protest against car parking charges.

These charges are a hefty and unavoidable tax on nurses all over the country – in Kingston it amounts to 1.5% of a full-time nurse’s salary.

An NT survey found, unsurprisingly, that 94% of nurses in England and Northern Ireland feel they should be exempt from paying the fees .

Couldn’t agree more. With one in five nurses spending up to £50 a month to park at work (and some forking out £8 a day for full-price parking as they are not entitled to a permit), something has to give. Please support the NT campaign by clicking here and downloading our free parking ‘permit’ to display in your car.

We filmed some interesting interviews and protest footage for our online news coverage but hit one small snag – the camera was knocked off its tripod by an unwitting passer-by and the footage irreparably damaged.

Undeterred, we will continue to bring you video footage from the nursing universe, while keeping a slightly firmer grip on the camera.

My next hospital visit, St George’s in Tooting, was an altogether happier occasion – a 12-week scan for my pregnant girlfriend. It turns out she is 14 weeks, and everything is progressing nicely.

Having originally opted for Guy’s and St Thomas’s under patient choice, we were told there was no room, and left with a choice between St George’s and Chelsea – both of which bombed in the Healthcare Commission ratings for maternity services.

It originally struck me as akin to being told we could dine at our choice of fine restaurants, as long as we wanted Mcdonalds or doner kebabs. Patient choice indeed.

As it turned out, we’ve been to two appointments and both were prompt, reassuring and helpful; the facilities were clean; and the waiting room full of more advanced pregnancies that seemed very happy with the service.

Now I feel a bit guilty for damning the place on ‘official’ ratings before I had a chance to make up my own mind.

Gabriel Fleming, online editor, Nursing Times

This blog also appears on Nursing Times' official blogging community
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