Recently our campaign to scrap the parking charges at UHCW reached the incredible milestone of 4000 signatures!
For years we have been running stalls across Coventry with our petition, rallying ordinary people in Coventry of whom the vast, vast majority agree that parking at the hospital should be free.
And why shouldn’t it be? The point of the NHS is that it is free at point of use! Hundreds of billions of pounds goes into an incredible health service, and then we’re asked to pay up-front if we need to drive to hospital? With millions in poverty and counting pennies, many have to walk long distances, cut the time they spend with loved ones, or even avoid going to hospital at all because of the up-front costs. And that isn’t speculation; we know this is fact from the experiences we have heard directly from workers and residents in Coventry on our campaigning stalls.
In Wales and most of Scotland you wouldn’t have these horrendous and even heart-breaking situations. Because Wales scrapped its parking charges in 2018, and Scotland in 2008 with the exception of their PFI hospitals!
And there is precisely the problem.
The Private Finance Initiative gives a private company the contract to run the car park, and pretty much gives them control over the charges. So of course the private company wants to make however much it can, no matter how many families it keeps apart, how many personal budgets it breaks, how many it keep away from seeking treatment, and how many NHS staff -our heroes- are forced to look for another job so they can stop going to the foodbank!
And at Walsgrave the profits are astronomical.
Coventry Telegraph reported that the car parks across Cov and Warwickshire hospitals cost about £1m to run – but they make £8m from the charges! Every time you pay £8 for parking, £7 goes right into the pocket of a company. As many have said while signing on our stalls, it is disgusting!
That’s why our petition not only calls for the parking charges to be scrapped, but also for the car park to be taken off the private company that runs it for profit and put back into public ownership. The problem isn’t that one particular company runs the car park badly; the whole profit motive that drives the ruthless capitalist machine means that ANY private firm will rip off ordinary people to make as much money as possible. They aren’t accountable to us, only to their bosses and shareholders.
Which is why across the country, PFI deals are VERY expensive. LocalGov says “in January  the National Audit Office reported that there were currently more than 700 PFI and PF2 deals with a capital value of around £60bn and annual charges amounting to £10.3bn in 2016-17. Even if no new deals are entered into, the NAO said, future charges which continue until the 2040s amount to £199bn.”
The PFI deal for UHCW itself is an atrocity. To quote Coventry Telegraph in 2019, “Despite the initial investments for Coventry’s NHS Trust being worth only £379 million, the trust will have paid back an estimated £3.7billion by the time the contracts are up – almost ten times the initial money.” The annual costs mean that an EIGHTH of UHCW’s entire budget goes to private profiteers who made their investment back years ago!
The Walsgrave Car Park PFI alone is harming so many people. That’s why in July last year we pledged to redouble our efforts, and now with over 4000 signatures we are going to keep up that fight!