Visitors driving to Auckland City Hospital can face lengthy queues to get on to the grounds and to car park buildings that are often near capacity. The DHB has done the numbers on building more car parks - and the cost is significant.
Building enough car parks to provide a long-term fix for Auckland City Hospital's parking squeeze would cost about $44 million and take close to 40 years to pay off.
Auckland DHB has investigated the cost of building hundreds more car parks at its Grafton hospital site, as worsening congestion leaves patients and visitors in lengthy queues or circling surrounding streets.
The board was recently briefed on the cost and payback period for building another 500 car parks.
This would be physically possible but "practically difficult and expensive with a very long payback period", DHB chief financial officer Rosalie Percival advised.
The cheapest option would be to extend Car Park B at a cost of around $44 million, which would take between 35 and 38 years to pay off, based on current car park revenues. The renal dialysis unit would also need to be moved.
Under the options presented there would be between 100 and 150 new public car parks, with the rest set aside for staff. Those costs work out to about $88,000 per new car parking space.
The briefing, delivered last week, warned of increased congestion and difficulty in getting capital funding.
"Current carparking rates would have to increase dramatically to a very high level to shorten the payback period to a more commercially acceptable payback," the report stated.
"Work is under way to develop the sustainable transport strategy, this focuses on reducing demand and alternative transport and scheduling strategies."
Board member Doug Armstrong recently raised the issue of profitability of car parking, with concern stemming from "the patient and visitor perspective where wait times to get into a car park appeared to be lengthy".
There are 713 public parking spots at the Grafton site, including some for certain types of patients such as outside the cancer and blood building. Other spaces are for staff including those on-call.
During busy periods the hospital is short about 100 car parks, and it can take longer than 30 minutes to get into the grounds and to a car parking building.
University students have been asked to not take up spots meant for visitors, and staff encouraged to take the bus or train. Moving outpatient clinics off-site has been mooted, along with re-routing bus links to the eastern suburbs.
The four DHBs that make up the northern region – Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau – made a case for a new hospital, possibly two, in their recent Northern Region Long Term Investment Plan.
Over the next 20 years nearly 60 per cent of New Zealand's population growth will be in Auckland and Northland, the report found, with medium growth forecasts predicting another 562,000 people in the region.
The number of people aged over 75 is expected to more than double in that time, and the northern DHBs predict another 2055 beds and 41 theatres will be required.