Wouldn't taxis be less taxing?

Seventy-three years after the words 'park' and 'car' were first linked, many hospitals provide twice as many parking places as they do beds.

They cost about the same. Most are filled by staff vehicles, a large proportion of which will belong to two-car households. Journeys to and from work will constitute the primary role of at least one of those two cars.

When the NHS was created, whole armies of workers were employed in factories located outside city centres which had become the hubs for most urban public transport systems. Metropolitan Vickers' huge complex in Manchester's Trafford Park was one example.

There, as elsewhere, thousands of staff would be transported directly from the factory to within close proximity of their homes in dedicated buses. Ironically, those bus journeys would have taken less time then than they would today by car.

Many hospitals are located so that most staff travelling to work on public transport would need to make at least one connection, so it will always be quicker to go by car. Hence the growth in two-car households.

Creating the modern equivalent of those bus fleets would relieve some of the expense and angst that car ownership brings. Vehicles sitting in a car park all day may not be clocking up any variable costs, but a fixed annual outlay of around pounds3,000 is incurred before they have been driven one mile.

A simple, centrally co-ordinated door-to-door system to transport most staff to and from hospital in shared taxis wouldn't be difficult to organise. Surely at least one enterprising taxi company would relish piloting such a bespoke service to so huge a potential market.

Similar pooling arrangements work effectively in some American cities, where air travellers are transported to and from airports in vans by Super Shuttle.

The average cost of a single journey with three staff sharing would probably work out at pounds2-pounds3 - not much more than public transport and far less than owning a second car.

Trusts could divert money from providing an ever expanding number of parking places to patient care. Car manufacturers would lose out, but that is what the green movement is supposed to be about.