Hospital parking charges to stay

In South Australia, a bid to overturn a government decision to charge staff for car parking at some Adelaide metropolitan hospitals has been dismissed by the full bench of the Industrial Relations Court.

The Public Service Association made the application, arguing the parking fees were a breach of enterprise agreements for staff at the public hospitals.

According to an ABC News bulletin, the parking charges for some public hospitals were introduced as a 2010 state budget measure, but partly overturned when Jay Weatherill took over from Mike Rann as premier. This change allowed two hours of free parking for hospital visitors, but not for staff who have to pay for parking for their entire stay.

Meanwhile in Wollongong, plans for the $86 million expansion of Wollongong Hospital have attracted concerns over parking issues, with planning documents showing that additional staff and patient numbers after the expansion will generate the need for almost double the number of parking spaces now available on site. According to the Illawarra Mercury, there are no short or medium-term plans to include more on-site parking.

Instead, patients, visitors and staff will have to park on nearby residential streets, which consultants claim have ‘‘high’’ spare capacity. NSW Health is currently reviewing the submissions. We consider the supply of adequate parking to be an essential component of Hospital planning, given the potential mobility issues of many of the people attending the hospital, not to speak of the stress levels of visitors to patients. Penalising the nearby residents by adding congestion to the surrounding street network would not seem to be a good idea in principle considering that those streets were not built to cater for high levels of traffic activity. And don’t let’s forget pedestrians, which is what all drivers are at the end of the journey!

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