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Over 70 Doctors and Nurses taken to court over ‘unfair’ parking tickets at Welsh hospital

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Over 70 clinical staff have been ordered to pay a total of £68,000 after losing a court battle over parking tickets issued at Wales’ largest hospital.

The staff at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff have been fighting parking fines issued by private enforcement firm Indigo following the privatisation of their parking services.

Last year it was announced that NHS Trusts and private enforcement agencies earn £120 million a year from NHS Staff, patients and relatives.

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Staff failed to convince the Judge on Friday at Cardiff’s civil justice court. Staff have been ordered to pay an average of £900 each for the fines plus the private firm’s legal fees.

Sue Prior, of Taff Ely Parking Action Group, said; “They have got to pay or they end up with CCJs (County Court Judgements)“.

She also added; “We have had people going in and handing their notice in”.

The action group has also criticised the hospital health board; “They have permitted a private parking company to do this. There is no common sense anywhere. At the moment we just need to sit back and assess what we are going to do because it costs money to appeal.”

The Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was “disappointing” that a small number of staff refused to co-operate with parking rules.

Parking company, Indigo, hold several other NHS parking contracts including; Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cheltham and Royal Gloucester Hospital and East and North Hertford NHS Trust.

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Education

£200 million NHS training budget could be lost to the private sector

Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

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NHS hospital corridor

Money paid by NHS trusts is now being “clawed back by the government”.

More than £200m is lying unused by cash-strapped health trusts in England because of restrictions in the Government’s apprenticeship levy scheme.

The restrictions mean that money from the levy can only be used to fund training costs and not salaries – meaning already cash-strapped organisations are unable to recruit additional staff.

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Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

According to the UNISON report, It Doesn’t Add Up, 79% of the levy money is yet to be used and warns that if this trend continues substantial NHS funding will be lost.

Levy money not spent after two years is reallocated to a central Government pot and used to subsidise apprenticeships for smaller employers – who don’t have to pay into the levy. This means cash from NHS budgets being diverted into the private sector.

Millions sat idle while there are 100,000 vacancies.

UNISON is now calling for the Government to change the rules so levy funding can also be spent on apprentice salaries and the wages of staff employed to cover for apprentices when they are training.

They have also suggested that the money could be used to fund a new extensive apprenticeship programme across the entire NHS for nursing and all the other health professions experiencing shortages.

Sara Gorton, Head of Health at UNISON, said; “Hundreds of millions of pounds are sitting idle at a time when budgets are stretched and there are 100,000 vacancies across the NHS,”.

“There are real concerns about the standard of training apprentices receive, with many carrying out administrative and clinical support roles for peanuts. Ministers must reform the system to ensure money allocated to the health service stays within the NHS and invest properly to ensure apprenticeships play a full role in solving the growing staffing crisis.”

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Health Politics

Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament

There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.

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Maria Caulfield

The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.

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In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.

Scotland recently secured new legislation on safe staffing and a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.

Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”

Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”

Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.

Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.

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