NHS staff have been left “broken” and face losing their homes after a court ordered them to pay thousands in parking fines racked up at a Cardiff hospital.
A judge has ruled that the employees, including nurses, doctors and admin staff, must pay the charges dating back to April 2016 after losing a legal fight with Indigo, the private operator that manages the car park at the University Hospital of Wales.
One nurse reportedly owes £150,000 after the court ruled that £128 must be paid for each unpaid ticket, plus £26,000 in court fees.
The dispute began last year when Indigo and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board agreed new measures for parking on the hospital site.
The hospital has 6,000 staff but the car park has only 1,800 spaces, so many said they were left with no choice but to park in spots reserved for visitors.
Many decided to veto payment of fines in protest.
Campaigners said 75 members of staff had been left “broken” by the ruling handed down by Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.
Sue Prior, who co-founded the Taff Ely Parking Action Group, established to offer assistance to staff, said: “It's horrendous. Some of them are broken. They're scared stiff, petrified, they feel sick. This affects everyone from cleaners to doctors.”
She also criticised the health board, telling Wales Online: “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. It was like David and Goliath - and David lost.”
A spokesman for Indigo said: “In April last year, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Indigo agreed a new set of measures to improve car parking on the UHW site.
“As a gesture of goodwill towards car park users, parking charge notices issued up to the end of March 2016 were cancelled.
It was like David and Goliath - and David lost
“In addition, the cost of a 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.
“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 the vast majority of staff complied with parking regulations and it was "disappointing" some had "chosen to refuse to co-operate".
The test case related to three individuals who had in excess of 100 PCNs between them since April 2016 but the result is binding on 72 others.
A Just Giving page has been set up to raise £30,000 to help those affected.