'Discount parking ticket' for Waitemata DHB hospitals after patient and visitor complaints

 

NZ Herald

Patients are being made more aware of guidelines allowing free parking at several Auckland hospitals after a raft of complaints about the high cost.

The issue of parking prices were raised at this morning's Waitemata District Health Board meeting after complaints the high price of parking at North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals was stopping patients getting visitors, especially the elderly.

Board chairwoman Judy McGregor said statistics showed about 65 per cent of people using the hospitals' parking facilities either pay nothing, or the minimum fee of $4.

However, she says more than 63,000 fees worth $1.29 million were waived last year alone using the compassionate parking guidelines.

The board agreed the guidelines, giving free parking to people like mothers with babies in the Special Care Baby Unit and elderly and frail visitors, should be clearer.

A $50 "discount parking ticket" allowing multiple entries for seven days – something which would usually cost more than $140 will also be introduced on November 1.

Waitemata DHB will publish its finalised guidelines on its website next month.

"Our focus is on ensuring fairness and equity," McGregor said

"It may well be that a discounted rate of this nature is appropriate in some instances and this system will allow us to make that call on a case-by-case basis."

Two options were already available to eligible hospital visitors whose extraordinary circumstances made the cost of parking unviable:

• The existing congress ticket - allowing applicants free entry and exit for one week, provided their personal situations meet the DHB's compassionate parking guidelines.

• One-off exit tickets allowed people to leave the DHB's hospital sites free-of-charge, provided their situations also comply with the compassionate parking guidelines.

DHBs did not receive funding for car parking infrastructure and the board was reluctant to make "wholesale changes" to parking tariffs that would effectively see "precious healthcare dollars" used to subsidise parking.

McGregor said the discretionary weekly ticket was a fair and reasonable response to public feedback.

"We value this input and we have taken it on board. The decisions we have made today strike the right balance and are fair for everyone.

"They allow the DHB to provide more help to those who need it without compromising our ability to improve overall car parking facilities for our community."