DHBs defend charging 'low' car park rates for hospital workers despite calls for no fees during Level 3

Source: 1News

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says all DHBs should continue offering free parking to all essential workers now that New Zealand has moved from Alert Level 4 to Level 3.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says it is disappointing that Auckland, Waitematā and Northland DHBs have started charging health workers again for parking after the country moved down alert levels, whereas other DHBs having not re-introduced such changes.

"In a time where we’re being asked to act with kindness, this decision feels opportunistic and a little bit mean-spirited," she says. 

"This will worsen the pressure felt by our already stressed and fatigued frontline staff and they still need every bit of support and acknowledgement possible."

Ms Nuku says that, in addition to alleviating their stress, extending free parking would be a small but concrete way that appreciation could be shown to staff.

But some DHBs have hit back saying costs for parking in the Northern Region DHB car parks are much lower than in other city car parks and can be as low as $1 a day for staff in Northland and $3 a day in central Auckland.

A spokesperson from the Northern Region DHBs (Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau Health) told 1 NEWS that many other workers face much higher parking fees.

"Unfortunately, there are costs involved in developing and maintaining these facilities for staff.

"During lockdown Level 4, we were able to temporarily waive parking fees in acknowledgement of the exceptional circumstances many of our staff and their families were under.

"Now that we are in Level 3 and many people have been able to return to work, we are reintroducing normal arrangements.

"We value our nurses and are planning a range of activities to celebrate the upcoming International Nurses Day," the spokesperson said.