Early this week Dundee Sheriff Court ruled that three nurses are required to pay more than £4000 in parking charges to a private car parking company, operating at Ninewells Hospital.
Indigo Park Services UK Ltd launched a civil action at Dundee Sheriff Court after claiming the nurses parked without valid tickets.
Julie Lindsay, a breast cancer nurse, who works at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Perth Royal Infirmary, will now have to pay the total of £2 040, plus expenses.
Ms Lindsay built up 15 parking fines because she worked beyond the end of her shift. She had paid for parking tickets, in the first instance, but had been fined on 15 occasions for overstaying in the car park due to her shifts running late.
Hospital car parking fees were abolished in Scotland in 2008. However, Ninewells, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh still charge as they are signed up to private contracts to manage their parking facilities.
Is it right that NHS workers in Scotland – who have been subjected to year on year pay cuts by the SNP Scottish Government – should be required to pay for parking at their place of work?
With the ever increasing cost of living, which is not matched by commensurate increases in salary, it is little wonder that the nurses involved in this case argued that they could not afford the fines.
Surely, it would not be beyond the wit of our NHS Boards to find a system where staff – who were unable to travel to work by public transport – were able to be provided with free parking spaces. It is fair enough to argue that public transport should be promoted where possible and, due to the drive to reduce carbon emissions, car usage should not be promoted however this should not be put above the reality of workers lives.
Unfortunately, for NHS workers – like those involved in this case – their shifts overrun – this is no fault of the individuals. It is due to the professionalism of NHS staff, and their desire to look after their patients that they, regularly, go above and beyond their strict contractual hours.
At Thompsons we regularly represent nurses and midwives before their regulator – the Nursing and Midwifery Council – and we can say with a degree of confidence that if a nurse or midwife left their patients, even after their shift had ended, in order to ensure that they did not receive a car parking fine serious professional misconduct would be alleged. This would put at risk the very career and livelihood that these professionals have worked for all their lives.
Further, our NHS workers are more than ever being expected to work on a 24-7 rota, to provide a 7 day NHS. The reality of this is that for those working out with the hours of 9-5, Monday to Friday, public transport is not always an option, it simply doesn’t exist.
This is another example of NHS Boards taken their workers for granted. These charges are nothing more than a further tax on our hard working NHS workers and should be scrapped immediately.
Blog by Jillian Merchant, Glasgow Lawyer