Welsh government must cancel all fines and PFI deal
Seventy-five health workers at University Hospital of Wales hospital in Cardiff are facing fines totalling £65,000 after the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre ruled in favour of parking corporation Indigo collecting the fines. Indigo claims there are £12.8 million in unpaid fines due from April 2016.
Workers have incurred the fines parking at a hospital car park despite having parking permits because the company does not provide enough spaces for hospital workers on the site. 6,500 parking permits have been issued for 1,800 parking spaces. So the workers have parked in other car parks on the site, incurring fines.
As one nurse said: “Parking at the hospital is a nightmare and staff are having to go to work 90 minutes before the start of their shifts to find staff parking. Many were also refused permits even though they live 20 miles away. There is inadequate parking space for staff hence why so many of us end up with fines as we are forced to park ‘illegally’.
“Nurses already face financial hardships, and this just puts the icing on the cake!”
At least one nurse faces having to sell her/his house to pay the fine – all for the crime of parking at the hospital that the workers work at and with permits. It is virtually impossible to park near the hospital and workers, patients and visitors are forced to pay exorbitant parking charges to the Indigo corporation.
The NHS in Wales is finding it very difficult to retain nurses and doctors yet Cardiff and Vale University Hospital Board have sided with Indigo against their own workers calling for the workers to pay the parking fines. This scandal will hit retention of NHS workers even more difficult.
The Welsh government officially abolished charges for hospital parking in 2008, but car parking at UHW is governed by a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deal negotiated by the Blair government that lasts until 2018. When the Welsh government abolished the charges in all the other Welsh hospitals the British Medical Association welcomed the move labelling the charges “a tax on the sick”.
At a time that NHS workers’ pay has been cut by thousands in real terms by the Tory government, it is wrong for the Welsh Labour government to permit Indigo to slap a “nurse tax” on thousands of its own hospital workers. The Welsh government must reach over the heads of the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, cancel the PFI deal with Indigo and clear all the fines.
Cardiff and Vale UHB has come in for unprecedented criticism recently from the Auditor General because the HR consultant that oversaw the recruitment process for a new HR director got the job herself with a wage of £150,000! Yet the board insists on sticking to the letter of the law in prosecuting its own workforce. It must be replaced and run by a democratically accountable health board.