The NHS was in the news again recently as their staff at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff lost an appeal to overturn thousands of parking tickets worth over £12.8 million.
Staff have been in a battle with private enforcement firm, Indigo, over unpaid parking tickets for the site that has 1,800 spaces for 6,000 staff. NHS staff have refused to pay the fines, arguing that the NHS should have stepped in.
Following a test case of 75 claims brought forward by Indigo, a District Judge ruled in favour of the enforcement firm, with the judge giving each ticket a value of £128. Doctors and nurses have also been subject to the £26,000 court fees – meaning they now owe £12.8million between them.
One nurse is understood to owe around £150,000 in outstanding tickets while another took to Facebook after the hearing to voice her disappointment and reveal she will likely be forced to sell her family home to pay the debt.
Following the hearing some staff handing in their notice to the UHW stating that they could not work for a company unwilling to support their employees.
A spokesperson for parking firm, Indigo, took time out from their busy schedule of stealing food from the mouths of babies and kicking over sandcastles to deliver the following statement:
“In April last year, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Indigo agreed a new set of measures to improve car parking on the University Hospital of Wales site. As a gesture of goodwill towards car park users, parking charge notices issued up to the end of March 2016 were cancelled.
“In addition, the cost of a PCN (Parking Charge Notice) was reduced to £10, if paid within 14 days. Despite this, a number of people refused to pay for parking at the site. They also ignored the resulting PCNs and declined to use the formal appeals process.”
“As the company responsible for managing parking and ensuring the free flow of traffic at Cardiff UHW, we have an obligation to ensure enforcement of parking restrictions,”
“For this reason, and with the full support of the health board, we took the strongest possible action against this small group of persistent offenders.
“The court’s ruling has justified our decision to take this action and we hope this sends a clear message to users of the car parks at Cardiff UHW that they follow the terms and conditions for parking.”
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was “disappointing” that a small number of staff refused to co-operate with parking rules, adding:
“The vast majority of over 98% of staff comply with the parking regulations.
“It is disappointing that a few people have chosen to refuse to co-operate with the contractors Indigo Parking Services UK and have chosen to pursue this through the courts.
“All staff and others visiting University Hospital Wales are encouraged to comply with the parking regulations in order for us to keep the site, safe, free-flowing and allow access to emergency vehicles and vital health services.”
The spokesman added:
“As a Health Board we have worked tirelessly on our sustainability plans and offering alternative modes of transport to the site, such as a park and ride scheme, already in operation and future re-development of a travel hub.
“We will continue to develop these options and encourage all staff and patients to use them.
“We are aware there are significant financial costs and financial hardship the staff have placed themselves in.
“We encourage all staff to engage with Indigo Car Parking Service UK at the earliest opportunity to avoid mounting legal and court costs.
“A high proportion our staff are involved in front line clinical duties.
“We have arrangements in place for vital services that require easy access quickly such as on call surgeons and midwives and those whose skills are required urgently for patient care.
“The vast majority of posts are covered by shift patterns and rotas that do not require the level of urgency claimed.”
Whenever it comes to the NHS we have selected outrage. A look at the comment sections where this story has been published is a clear indication of the public opinion. But what about other companies that struggle for parking?
City centre workers will argue that they are often the victim of greedy parking operators who charge ridiculously over inflated prices for parking due to a lack of choice in the area.
While baggage handlers at Manchester Airport have been forced to park miles from the airport and rely on company provided public transport to get back to site.
Should companies be expected to provide parking for their employees or is it up to the employee to make their own arrangements? Let us know via our social media channels.