The shortage of parking at Hawke's Bay Hospital is a responsibility of central government, which needs to fix the problem without sacrificing spending on health services, says Labour Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck.
"Getting more carparking so that people can use and visit the hospital is about providing the core infrastructure needed to access health services," she said.
Parking was a capital expense the Health Ministry was responsible for, rather than an operational expense to be borne by the hospital, she said.
"Any attempt to try and make this about a trade-off on whether people want more hip or knee operations or carparks is wrong. It is not one at the expense of the other."
The hospital campus has more than 1000 parking spaces and more than 2000 staff, many working late shifts.
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) is implementing its Go Well Travel Plan to encourage staff to walk, car pool, cycle or catch the bus to work. Many currently use the public carpark.
The plan is in conjunction with Hastings District Council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which is responsible for public transport in the region.
Bus services will change their schedule in September to match hospital shift times and parking fees introduced by the end of the year.
The proposed charge is $1, covering a day for staff and three-and-a-half hours for patients and visitors. Parking fees would go towards furthering the Travel Plan.
Two weeks ago HBDHB chief executive Kevin Snee said the parking situation was "unacceptable" and the board was considering reconfiguring current carparks.
It believed the creation of more spaces would simply mean more people would travel to and from the hospital by car.
A survey found 91 per cent of its staff travelled to work by car - more than three-quarters with just one person - but 21 per cent were interested in coming to work differently through means such as public transport, car pooling and cycling.
It found 10 per cent lived within 2km of the hospital or a 20-minute walk, while 27 per cent were within 5km, considered a reasonable cycling distance. Of patients, 18 per cent lived within 1km of the hospital, 23 per cent lived within 5km, and 11 per cent lived within 800m of a bus stop.
Mr Snee said hospital use was increasing, evidenced by increasing Emergency Department use of more than 7 per cent in a year, and the board wanted to take steps that were "good for the environment and for public well-being".
It was the first time such an approach had been undertaken by a New Zealand health board.
Health Ministry DHB performance acting director John Hazeldine said the ministry recognised the need for carparking and sufficient provision was a matter for the HBDHB.
"We expect DHBs to consider how best this can be achieved and how to prioritise this against other demands on funding. The Government has funded the capital costs of carparking as part of hospital redevelopments in the past. We would expect the DHB to submit a business case for approval should significant capital be required for carparking developments in the future."