PARKING DISPUTE: The HSU is calling on Lismore city Council to reverse its decision to reinstate paid parking on January 18, 2021, until AustAsia is declared COVID-19 free. File Photo: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
PARKING DISPUTE: The HSU is calling on Lismore city Council to reverse its decision to reinstate paid parking on January 18, 2021, until AustAsia is declared COVID-19 free. File Photo: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

‘Brave’ hospital staff treated like ‘cash cows’ by council

Lismore City Council has been accuse of treating staff like "cash cows" after announcing it would resume paid parking for staff and visitors at the hospital.

Free parking comes to an end on Monday, January 18.

Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said the free parking scheme had been a success since it was introduced last April as a goodwill measure during the pandemic.

But he said forcing people to pay for parking now would be a "big ugly roadblock" to providing a speedy COVID-19 testing service, espectially at a regional hospital which has already seen patients waiting up to four hours.

>>> Spike in COVID testing, extra staff called in

"I am flabbergasted that Lismore City Council would crab-walk away from its clever decision to offer free street parking during the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

"This decision punishes local residents who do the right thing and visit the hospital for vital COVID-19 tests, and who are already struggling with hours long delays, wearing masks during high temperatures and social distancing pressures."

Mr Hayes said the last thing people with COVID-19 symptoms wanted was to fumble with credit cards and unsterilised pay station touchscreens after finding a park.

He said the HSU contacted the council seeking to discuss a further extension of the free-parking scheme, until Australia is declared COVID-19 free.

"Local residents who visit the hospital, who are often stressed and struggling with illness and disease symptoms, have appreciated this scheme," Mr Hayes said.

"I hope Lismore City Council rethink this money-grab which has quietly been scheduled for the summer holiday season."

He said staff, who were working harder than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, shouldn't be treated like "cash-cows" by their council, which will now slug staff members an average of $480 a year extra for parking.

"Hardworking hospital staff, including cleaners and wards persons, are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, and should not be slugged with this shortsighted revenue raising measures in 2021," Mr Hayes said.

"They are bravely dealing with the daily problems of a deadly pandemic.

"Free street parking makes sense both as a good will measure, and as a strategy to encourage visits for testing which helps stop the spread of COVID-19, and in turn avoid a damaging lockdown of our state economy."

The council has been contacted for comment.



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