Hospitals face pressure to slash parking charges as patients miss out on visitors and appointments.

Manukau Superclinic visitors pay nothing for parking but those across town at Waitākere and North Shore Hospitals are stung up to $20 a trip.

Grey Power and others say the social good of hospital visits is in peril, with its members already struggling with rising living costs including the regional fuel tax.

One of Auckland's three District Health Boards will consider the issue at a board meeting this week, following the community upset.


Professor Judy McGregor, new chairwoman of Waitematā DHB, has expressed concern, and the audit and finance committee has been asked to report back with a recommendation on pricing.

Some charges are more than double those in Wellington, and higher than other Auckland DHBs.

Parking for 1-2 hours costs $8.20 at North Shore and Waitākere, while in Wellington drivers are charged $6 for the same time or $4 at weekends.

Maureen Wood, chairwoman of advocacy group Waitākere Health Link, acknowledged the financial pressure on DHBs.

"They don't have the funding. If you are told you have to have more car parks - which we do - somebody has to pay for it. The thing is, it's the patients that are paying for it," she told the Herald on Sunday.

"If you are visiting every day, it mounts up. A lot of people it's not a big deal for, but my co-ordinator has had people saying, 'we're not happy with this'."

People missing appointments was a costly problem for the health system, and Waitākere Health Link had heard from patients the cost of parking was one reason for this.

Pricing could discourage visitors or cut down time spent with patients, Wood said, and a 20-minute grace period was too short for people with limited mobility.

A compassionate relief policy was available, but Wood said it wasn't clear how it was applied.

Mate Marinovich, president of Waitākere Grey Power, wrote to the DHB earlier this year citing examples where people had arrived at appointments on time, but because a specialist was running late, they had been charged $8.20 for two hours of parking.

Over-65s should be exempt from charges because they provide an important social good in visiting friends in hospital, Marinovich contended.

However, current charges meant that was difficult for some, particularly with the new regional fuel tax causing pain at the pump.

In a response to Grey Power, the DHB, which operates North Shore Hospital and Waitākere hospitals, said it was reluctant to use precious health funding on parking facilities.

"It is therefore necessary to ask the public to pay for on-site parking. We strive to do this in a fair and balanced way that minimises financial impacts.

"We have the longest grace period of any hospital across the city (20 minutes) and in January we reduced the fee for the first hour of parking from $5 down to $4."

Two-thirds of visitors pay $4 or less, the DHB stated, and public transport use was encouraged where possible. That's free for Gold Card holders.

A DHB spokeswoman said an update would be available after Wednesday's board meeting.

The Public Service Association has said any hospital parking costs for patients and their families is unacceptable, and the health workforce and public already pay tax to cover the cost of running the health system.

Regional services including Whangārei Hospital are charging for parking, with Northland DHB saying it saves money for services "in an increasingly tight fiscal environment".

Waitākere Hospital and North Shore Hospital

• 20 minutes-1 hour: $4
• 1-2 hours: $8.20
• 2-3 hours: $12.20
• 3-4 hours: $16.40
• Over 4 hours: $20.40

Auckland City and Starship Children's Hospital

• 15-30 minutes: $3
• 30 minutes-1 hour: $4
• 1-2 hours: $6
• 2-3 hours: $8
• 3-4 hours: $9
• 4-5 hours: $10
• 5-6 hours: $12
• 6-7 hours: $15
• 7-8 hours: $18

Middlemore Hospital

• 15 minutes-1 hour: $4
• 1-2 hours: $8.20
• 2-3 hours: $12.20
• 3-4 hours: $16.40
• Over 4 hours: $20.40

Manukau and Botany SuperClinics:
• Free

Waikato Hospital

• 30 minutes-1 hour: $1.50
• 1-2 hours: $3
• 2-3 hours: $4.50
• 3-4 hours: $6
• Over 4 hours: $7.50
• Weekly pass: $7

Whangārei Hospital
(Charges apply on weekdays 8.30am-5pm)

• 1-1.5 hours: $2
• 1.5-2 hours: $3
• 2-2.5 hours: $4
• 2.5-3 hours: $5
• 3-4 hours: $6
• 4-6 hours: $7
• Over 6 hours: $8

Tauranga Hospital:
• Free

Wellington Hospital
(weekend rates in brackets)

• 20 minutes-1 hour: $4 ($3)
• 1-2 hours: $6 ($4)
• 2-3 hours: $7 ($5)
• 3-4 hours: $8 ($6 for over 3 hours)
• 4-5 hours: $9
• 5 hours+: $10