Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Hospital staff rally over parking fees

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Angry Hawke's Bay Hospital staff are petitioning the district health board to stop a proposal to charge them for parking while they work.

The charges, administered by Wilson Parking, could see staff pay up to $20 per week to park on hospital grounds, or $10 per week for the "opportunity to look for a park," consultation papers have revealed.

A hospital employee, who did not wish to be named, contacted Hawke's Bay Today about the "unfair" charges that would leave staff, patients and visitors out of pocket.

"We are all really, really angry," she said. "Why the heck are they sending us to anti-bullying workshops when we are being bullied by the board?"

The staff member said wording used on feedback forms suggested the initiative would go ahead.

"It asks 'have we got the pricing structure right?' Not: 'Do you agree or disagree with the whole idea'. As you can appreciate, for the cleaners and kitchen staff it is unfair because the administrators and the doctors and the other people have higher salaries, but we will be paying the same as them."

The proposed public fees would begin at $2 per hour, but not exceed $7 for four or more hours.

Separate staff car parks would give employees three options - On-site Standard, where $10 per week was deducted from their salary for a non-guaranteed park, the On-site Reserved $15 per week option for access to a limited number of reserved spaces, or the $20 per week Dedicated Parking option for their own park.

A petition had been started opposing the controversial and "bullying" initiative and Facebook page Stop the HBDHB Workers Being Charged Fees was also gaining support.

"Sucks for people that only work a few hours but have to pay for it anyway," said one comment. "I work 5pm until 7.30pm some nights and if its not already bad enough that I travel all the way from Napier for this small amount of work then they want me to pay them to be parked somewhere safe?"

Consultation papers released on the health board's website said the introduction of parking fees at the Hastings hospital and Napier Health Centre sites was to increase parking spaces, improve security and save money.

"This year alone we will spend nearly $130,000 on maintaining and improving car parking at Hawke's Bay Hospital and the Napier Health Centre," the papers said.

"As a health board we believe it's better to spend that money on health services and leave car parking to experts in the car-parking business."

Surplus revenue would go into improving health services, the website said.

A board spokeswoman said there were 1000 parks, with over 600 for staff. In the last 12 months there were nine reported break-in thefts, and the new system would increase lighting, CCTV cameras, barrier arms and manned parking booths.

Exemptions may be available for parents of seriously ill children, volunteers, renal patients and one nominated family member of long-term patients.

Feedback can be given at until December 14. The results will be reported to the board at its February 2013 meeting.

Proposed parking fees for HB Hospital, Napier Health Centre and corporate offices

Public rates - 0 to 30mins, free; 30mins to 1 hour, $2; 1 hour to 1.5 hours, $3; 1.5 to 2 hours, $4; 2 to 3 hours, $5; 3 to 4 hours, $6; 4+ hours, $7.00.

Night parking - $3 (9pm to 8.30am).

Staff rates - On-site Standard, $10 a week for a non-guaranteed park; On-site Reserved, $15 a week option for limited number of reserved spaces; Dedicated Parking, $20 a week for own park.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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