Night time parking fears

JAMES VERNON
Last updated 11:25 15/11/2012

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The Wellingtonian

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Wellington Hospital workers are afraid when returning to their cars after their night shifts, despite recent lighting improvements.

Nurse Donna McLennan pays $84 a month to secure a park, but still feels unsafe walking alone to her car.

"Because I have worked rotating shifts here, I have had to park in the top car park, where the lighting is not adequate, and it's very isolated," Mrs McLennan said.

"On many occasions I have found myself running to my car."

Staff can pay up to $10 daily for parking or can enter into a monthly contract, which works out at $2.50 a day.

Mrs McLennan said she wanted Capital and Coast District Health Board management to do more for nurses parking around the hospital grounds.

"I would like to see a shuttle service to your car if you work the late shift. In previous places I have worked, this is what they did," she said.

Kelvin Watson, executive clinical and corporate director for the district health board, said the board treated the matter seriously.

"We appreciate that we have a predominantly female workforce and we have recently reviewed and upgraded the lighting at staff parking areas," Mr Watson said.

"After a shift, staff members are welcome to ask one of our security orderlies to walk with them to their vehicle."

Mrs McLennan said the presence of security personnel had not eased her concerns.

"I don't use them because they are often short-staffed and there isn't one available to take you to your car. If they are there, it is often a long wait.

"At the end of a late shift, all you want to do is get home."

Mr Watson said that because of other duties security orderlies might not be available to nurses immediately.

He thought the $2.50 a day that staff could pay for parking was very reasonable and that the free parking for night staff was an encouragement to park in the hospital grounds.

That does not suit nurses such as Jenny Munro, who work day and night shifts and cannot afford the monthly fee.

Ms Munro has never paid for parking at Wellington Hospital and like many nurses would rather park outside hospital grounds.

"There are a lot of people in my position who feel parking for employees is too expensive and try to find an alternative, such as parking on nearby streets," Ms Munro said.

"At night I do not feel safe once I leave the hospital, no matter where my car is parked.

"I want to see cheaper rates for on-site parking, as well as safer parking areas."

Nurses union member Erin Kennedy said she was aware of the parking problems faced by night staff.

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"Nurses either park miles away and walk through dark streets at end of shift, or pay to park on hospital property."

Ms Kennedy said parking was a concern for many night staff.

- The Wellingtonian

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