WATCH: Workers don't buy hospital parking blame game

UPDATE 1:30: The Health Services Union is unimpressed with the blame game between Lismore City Council and NSW Health, and just want a solution to the Lismore Base Hospital staff parking drama.

Secretary general of Health Services Union NSW Gerard Hayes, said "NSW Health has to take the responsibility for the parking of staff."

Although, Mr Hayes also unleashed criticism on council's 'opportunistic' approach to paid parking.

"I've never seen a council which has been so systematic in its approach to its parking cash grab," Mr Hayes said.

Workers, interviewed below, will have to walk for more than half an hour, often at night.

 

They will no longer be able to park in the surrounding streets, as council has earmarked the surrounding area as 2-hour limit paid parking zones:

NO-GO ZONES: Map indicates 2-hour limit parking, where staff can no longer park.
NO-GO ZONES: Map indicates 2-hour limit parking, where staff can no longer park.

 

 

UPDATE 11AM: READERS of The Northern Star have voiced their concerns over the plan to charge hospital staff for parking outside the Lismore Base Hospital.

"That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! Why should staff have to pay parking at all? Nurses and other staff at hospitals don't get paid enough as it is, now they have to pay to go to work? That's a joke!" Alison Stegeman said on The Northern Star's Facebook page.

Jill Ritson said staff parking should be free.

"Hospital staff need safe parking especially since they often start or finish work in the dark hours. They shouldn't have to pay for this! Charge more for visitors if it's a matter of saving money. PS I am not a hospital employee; I just think it's only fair for the medical staff at least, especially the nurses, to have access to parking," Jill said.

Amy Sellen, who said she did work at the hospital said she "would be very surprised if management have to pay for parking when this is brought in."

"In fact they have free parking along the loading dock which is only a short distance to their offices while the rest of us have to walk a country mile at times. If staff have to pay then so should management and should be subject to the same ballet for carpark's as the rest of staff," she said.

Casey Underhill called the whole thing "ridiculous". 

"My mother works from 6am in the morning and at times its pitch black so being forced to park where it's not paid parking will be unsafe, yet parking where it's closer will mean extra money a fortnight she can't afford," she said.

"Not very fair that people have to fork out money they can't afford to go to work and keep this hospital clean, patients & staff fed and tended to, and they won't get paid extra to compensate. Without the staff they wouldn't have a running hospital. But rough in my opinion."

Jeffrey Catt raised concerns about parking around the hospital in general:

"The elderly go to the hospital to visit family friends. They park 3 blocks away because they cannot afford to park and pay. They walk up the hills around the hospital and get stressed takes time.

"They spend 1 to 2 hrs the weather changes. They walk back to car in the rain and and get stressed again. Then they become sick. But the council has $ 2 ALL DAY parking in town why is it not the same."

Dalziell Street resident, Rhonda Ellis, 70, lives outside the paid parking zone amid a construction zone.

She will share the premium parking space with hospital workers. Ms Ellis, like other Dalziell Street residents, who rely on on street parking, have been granted free parking permits.

She said community consultation by council was adequate.
"They have sent lots and lots of communication with the parking but it changes. You have to be online constantly," she said. 

 

The new entrance to the Lismore Base Hospital has been unveiled.
The new entrance to the Lismore Base Hospital has been unveiled. Cathy Adams

UPDATE 8.30AM: LISMORE City Council has expressed its concerns about the failure of Lismore Base Hospital to provide support for its employees and ensure adequate parking is available for staff.

Council said they adopted a parking strategy last December for the precinct surrounding the Lismore Base Hospital in response to resident concerns and to work in collaboration with NSW Health and the Lismore Base Hospital in developing the hospital expansion.

Ongoing resident concerns about regular non-compliance with parking laws, restricted access to resident parking, and the need to support the funding model for the provision of the new multi storey car park due to open in late April, prompted council to act.

A report to a Council meeting December last year recommended parking infrastructure improvements funded by paid parking to ensure competing demands for on street parking were met following a period of public consultation.

Parking infrastructure improvements in Dalziel Street and Dibbs Street have recently been completed.

The revised paid parking structure to be implemented in late April was developed around supporting a request from the NSW Government and their expanding parking facilities as part of a redeveloped hospital facility, Council's Manager of Development & Compliance, Peter Jeuken said.

"The Council report made it clear, and there was an agreed understanding that the hospital administration would manage the parking needs of hospital staff, and that concerns for hospital staff parking expressed by the Health Services Union needed to be resolved between the Union and the hospital administration," Mr Jeuken said.

"Council has recently been advised that hospital administration have not yet finalised their parking solutions for staff."

Acknowledging HSU concerns about parking for staff, Mr Jeuken said this:

"Council is bound by certain rules for paid parking, and since December we have made repeated requests for meetings with hospital management to provide options and possible solutions in response to their discussions and negotiations with staff. It is frustrating that Council has not received any response from the hospital administration to those repeated requests and offers of assistance.

"There are several options available such as paid parking subsidised by the hospital, on site parking management, and changes to timed restrictions, however, none of these options have been finalised by the hospital.

"In the absence of an employer being willing to respond to the needs of their employees and engage with Council in developing solutions, it is not up to Council to resolve industrial disputes, and our door remains open to resolve any issues directly with hospital management."

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said that council was disappointed and frustrated that the hospital administration "has not responded to the genuine concerns of their staff to date, as we were assured that the hospital would manage these concerns if Council adopted a parking strategy in support of the hospital redevelopment".

"We have the parking needs of hospital staff, visitors and local residents to balance, and once again it appears the state government is wiping its hands and shifting responsibility for a problem to local government.

"Now the hospital's failure to provide adequate parking for their staff is presented as a council problem.

"That is wrong, it wouldn't wash with any other business, and the lack of action by hospital administration dealing with this matter to date is not in the spirit of partnership and cooperation that Council embarked on to facilitate the hospital redevelopment."

 

Lismore Base Hospital staff and the Helath Services Union protest the proposed fees they will have to pay for paid parking. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Lismore Base Hospital staff and the Helath Services Union protest the proposed fees they will have to pay for paid parking. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

FRIDAY 5AM: HEALTH Workers at Lismore Base hospital have levelled their anger over inadequate and costly staff parking squarely at Lismore City Council.

A ballot, drawn yesterday, allotted 400 parking permits to the 645 permanent staff who applied. The lucky ones will have the privilege of parking at the new multi-storey car park for $12 per week.

The 245 unlucky workers, as well as all casuals and contractors, will be forced to park on the street. However, the only all-day paid parking available for hospital workers is in Dalziell Street, with less than 90 spaces available.

Health Services Union (HSU) members said they will be forced to pay $7 a day for parking, equating to $70 a fortnight for the average full-time hospital worker.

Lismore City Council plans to introduce two-hour time-restricted parking in streets surrounding the hospital, meaning that workers without permits can no longer park nearby at all if they miss out on the Dalziell Steet parks.

Casual food services worker Amanda Crabtree is the kind of worker the new parking scheme will hurt the most. The low-paid worker, who already commutes more than an hour to work from beyond Rapville, said she was worried about the extra half hour-walk.

"I'm not going to be able to park anywhere near the hospital. I'm not entitled to the ballot. It looks like I'm going to have to park all the way down near the ovals, which will add another half-hour," she said.

"Not to mention kitchen staff don't finish until 8.30pm. We will be reliant on security and it's not available, it will be us on the streets at night."

The Health Services Union were out in force yesterday, and it clearly took the council, rather the hospital management to task.

"We are calling it the council's greedy grab for cash," HSU spokesperson John Mill said.

However, Lismore City Council and the mayor Jenny Dowell, said staff parking was the responsibility of NSW Health, as agreed upon in a council report.

Council's Manager of Development and Compliance, Peter Jeuken said: "The council report made it clear, and there was an agreed understanding that the hospital administration would manage the parking needs of hospital staff, and that concerns for hospital staff parking expressed by the Health Services Union needed to be resolved between the union and the hospital administration."

Council had recently been advised that the hospital's administration had not finalised its parking solutions for staff.

Indeed, Lynne Weir, Executive Director of the Richmond Clarence Health Service Group, said the issue of parking was a "work in motion". Once the multi-storey car park opens in late April or early May, management will see how the parking plan works with the movements of morning and evening staff.

A stage two carpark is planned, however, hospital management said it had not been informed when it would open from NSW Infrastructure.

"We have to balance staff needs with the needs of our patients," Ms Weir said.

The visitor multi-storey carparking will be free for visits under-15 minutes, then $3 per hour, with a maximum cap of $8.



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