Hastings District Council has turned down a desperate plea from medical staff to ease parking fines outside Hawke's Bay Hospital.
Due to carpark resurfacing, some hospital staff have had to park on the road where there is a two-hour limit.
Emergency department nurse Anita Lamont said she and other staff are being fined and hit hard in the pocket as a result.
"It has caused us absolute grief, we can't park anywhere."
Lamont said the nature of work in ED made it hard to get out and move a car before the two-hour period expired.
"You don't get the chance to go out there, say 'hang on patients, we need to go and move our cars'.
"The nurses are getting $30 parking tickets, one of the nurses actually got an $80 parking ticket."
She said she now leaves for work an hour early to make sure she can find a park.
"You can park away from the hospital and walk to your car safely at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the main concern is the afternoon shift and the nights."
The nurse penned a letter to Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst asking for an exemption for staff to park on the road outside ED until the resurfacing was completed.
"During Covid level 3 and 4, they did give us free parking outside on the street, but as soon as we went down to level 2, they removed that."
Hazlehurst said providing enough parking for staff, residents, visitors, patients, schools, the crematorium and cemetery as well as other businesses is a "challenge".
"Providing exemptions for hospital staff would dramatically reduce the amount of spaces available for the other residents and businesses.
"There is parking available on the outer fringes of the hospital and we are aware the hospital offers a security chaperone to help staff back to their vehicles at night as well as other alternative transport options."
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board said the resurfacing was being done in stages on the Hastings site to minimise inconvenience.
"The upgrades are needed to ensure that people and vehicles can park safely," a spokesperson said.
In 2015, the DHB adopted a travel plan called Go Well, encouraging the use of public transport, carpooling and cycling among those travelling to the hospital.
Among the incentives supported by the travel plan are fully subsidised bus transport, a free shuttle service for afternoon staff to and from cars parked off-site and a guaranteed ride home programme when unexpected circumstances arise for those who bus, carpool, walk or cycle to work.
But Lamont said those efforts didn't resolve the issue.
"Carpooling is fine if you work 9 to 5 and you can go with somebody else, but a lot of the ED shifts are very different, you can be the only person on that shift."
The DHB said the work, which affects 44 staff carparks of the 593 available to staff across the Hastings campus, started on November 23, and is on track to finish on time next Monday.
Anita Lamont's letter to Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst
Hi Sandra, I am writing to you on behalf of very upset hospital staff. As you might know the hospital is repairing the carpark outside ED. This in turn has created an absolute nightmare for staff trying to go to work and park. Some staff are driving 40 minutes to get a park. We are really struggling. The problem is many staff are forced to park on the road and are getting 30.00 parking tickets. This seems to be worse lately. I am writing to ask that staff be given an exemption to park on the road outside ED for the next 6 weeks while the work is being done. Thank you
Anita ED Nurse.
Please help us.