One of the problems with getting older is the niggling aches and pains you can happily shrug off when you are younger start to become a little more problematic.

I could go years and years without setting foot inside a doctor's surgery but these days it seems like I'm there every other week.

And recently I've spent more time at hospital than I would like.

I know the NHS is under massive pressure but in all honesty, apart from the odd extended wait at A&E to have a sliver of glass removed from my foot, I've had nothing but prompt, efficient and professional service.

But maybe one of the most contentious issues surrounding a trip to hospital is the cost of paying to park your car.

According to a report on the Guardian's website, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust offers the joint-sixth most expensive one-hour stay in the country where it costs £3 to park for between 25 minutes and four hours – a rate it says has been frozen since 2008.

The trust, which runs Victoria Infirmary, Elmhurst Care Centre and Leighton Hospital says that, along with others across the country, it is facing financial pressure and parking charges help ringfence patient care budgets for frontline services.

Meanwhile, East Cheshire NHS Trust’s charges rose last year, with fees at Macclesfield Hospital now £3.50 for a stay of between 30 minutes and four hours.

A spokesman for the Mid Cheshire trust said: “The trust offers a flexible payment structure for its parking. This includes a free period of 25 minutes for short visits, £3 for up to four hours, £5 for up to 24 hours and a £10 weekly pass that gives unlimited parking permissions for seven days.

“These charges have remained unchanged since 2008 and there are no current plans to increase them.

“The income generated from car parking charges funds management of the car parks, including CCTV and security staff. The remainder goes directly back in to the Trust to fund improvements to the provision, maintenance and security of its car parks.

A spokesman for the East Cheshire said the move, made in autumn 2017, was made to simplify charges, reduce rates for longer-term parking, and extend the time limit for free stays by 10 minutes.

I'm torn on this.

Car parking charges does seem like a tax on illness, the ill and their friends and families but I also understand that money is tight in the NHS.

As a spokesman added: "Without the income from car parking charges, the cost of maintaining the car parks and the security of visitors, staff and vehicles would need to be funded from budgets currently allocated for patient care."

And no one wants to see money taken out of health care budgets, do they.

But there is one thing I firmly believe, no hospital worker should ever have to pay to park at the hospital they work at.

That's just wrong.

  • INTERESTING to see that Cheshire Police have had a busy time disrupting the drugs trade in the county.

Apparently, officers made 2,070 seizures in 2017/18 which is a 95 per cent increase on the previous year and up from just 653 in 2015/16.

Remarkably, the county saw the highest drug seizures to population ratio in the north west in 2017/18, above Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria constabularies.

Who'd have thought?

DCI Mike Evans, from the Cheshire Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “While the increase in the number of drugs seizures in Cheshire over the past 12 months may cause some concern for residents, it’s important that the figures are put into context as the seizures themselves only form part of the narrative.

“While Cheshire is largely a rural county, it is home to a number of large towns and the city of Chester. It is also a conduit between two major cities in Liverpool and Manchester and is home to one of the biggest music festivals in the UK in Creamfields.

“As a result the county is occasionally targeted by organised crime gangs viewing Cheshire as an easy target. However, as the number of seizures show, the reality is very different."

That's comforting to know and I hope Cheshire Police can keep up the good work.