Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Health board rejects paying for parking

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The goodwill and safety of staff has trumped revenue gathering for the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, who yesterday rejected a controversial proposal to introduce paid car parking at their facilities.

A proposal to charge visitors, patients and staff to park at Hawke's Bay Hospital, the Napier Health Centre and DHB corporate offices was met with fierce reaction when raised in June.

More than 600 staff petitioned against the proposal, citing the one-size-fits-all charges as "unfair" for the range of salaries paid to cleaners, cooks, nurses, doctors and executives.

Yesterday, applause broke out when board chair Kevin Atkinson rejected the business case that would have netted more than $1.8 million in revenue over eight years. "I don't think it is sensible to put at risk the goodwill of staff," he said. "I am also concerned about those staff that can't afford it ... to me that creates safety issues."

Finance Manager Peter Kennedy presented the case he said would resolve issues on park shortages, thefts and the cost of ongoing carpark maintenance.

Chief Operating Officer Warrick Frater said paid parking would ultimately provide more money for health care. "The money you spend on car parks you don't spend on health care."

Board members spent nearly an hour questioning the findings of the business case, and expressed strong views against it going ahead.

Hawke's Bay did not have effective enough public transport or a wealthy enough population to implement the scheme, and it was not fair to charge all levels of staff the same fees, said Diana Kirton.

Visiting ill family members was already an expensive and emotionally draining effort, especially if you had to travel from rural areas, to add parking and penalties to the mix, said Ngahiwi Tomoana.

Dan Druzianic said staff engagement was the number one asset to the DHB, and management relied heavily on that goodwill to implement a range of other cost-cutting measures in the tough financial climate.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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