COMMENT:

Imagine New Zealand's second largest city building a new hospital, while at the time pretending patients and staff can go without a carpark. Welcome to Christchurch!

The Canterbury District Health Board has told us the Ministry of Health is responsible for building a hospital carpark. The trouble with these paper shufflers in Wellington is that they seem to not care. Their compassion stops at their office doors.

They've probably too busy fighting in emails. You only need to go the CDHB website and see the free flowing correspondence between CDHB senior managers and Ministry of Health executives, released under the Official Information Act. It's no wonder nothing gets done with passive aggressive tones coming from Wellington.

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You would think the violent attack on a Christchurch nurse in 2018 while walking to her car from the hospital might be enough for the Ministry of Health to act - but no, nothing.

The recent death of hospital worker Kenneth McCaul, killed during a police pursuit, again exposed the vulnerability of hospital staff. He was on his way to work hours before his shift started, just so he could get a carpark.

To the CDHB's credit, it did come up with a short-term solution with the park-and-ride hospital shuttle service from the Lichfield Street carparking building.

But city councillor and CDHB board member James Gough has pointed out, is it really acceptable for patients undergoing chemotherapy to be sitting in a cold dark building waiting for a shuttle to take them to the hospital?

We've put in constant requests to the Ministry of Health to front up. We usually get a copy and paste job from a PR person saying the Ministry of Health acknowledges the frustration experienced by Christchurch residents and then they usually end the statement by saying they're still considering their options.

In the meantime, contractors have been busy replacing on street carparks close to the hospital with landscaped footpaths. I've asked the Christchurch mayor, the Christchurch Central City MP, and CDHB board members about the carpark issue. Sadly, they're all in dark.

What will it take for the Ministry of Health to actually communicate to the good people of Christchurch? If attacks on staff and a needless death doesn't force action, then what hope can they offer residents? My message for Ministry of Health is this: you have an obligation to keep the public safe, do your job and build a much needed carpark.