Christchurch hospital parking woes acute

CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 10:49 16/07/2014
Christchurch Hospital car parking
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

PARKING AT A PREMIUM: Peter Soal from Ashburton feeds the meter near Christchurch Hospital.

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Canterbury DHB board member Aaron Keown says a lack of coordination among city authorities is behind the parking problem at Christchurch Hospital and Christchurch Women's Hospital.

Staff, patients and carers have reported spending hundreds of dollars on parking fees and fines, missing medical appointments and midwives had even missed births due to the parking shortage in and around the hospitals.

The 130-space car park next to Christchurch Hospital will become a construction zone when work on the redeveloped hospital gets under way in September.

Other parking options are metered and free spaces on nearby city streets, the Christchurch City Council operated Old Brewery parking building on St Asaph Street, or two privately run Car Parks.

Keown said he was aware health board staff were working on a solution, but wanted the issue addressed with more urgency.

''For me transport and accessibility to the hospital is paramount, they go hand in hand. There's almost no point having a hospital if you can't access it.''

He would raise the issue again at tomorrow's health board meeting.

''I will bring it up but whether it goes anywhere will be interesting.''

The issue required a coodinated approach as there were several authorities involved in transport issues in the area he said.

''Until there's a committee, working together there won't be a solution.''

URGENT ACTION NEEDED

Patients, staff and carers are calling for urgent action to address an acute shortage of parking at Christchurch Hospital and Christchurch Women's Hospital. The problems look set to worsen as the hospital's redevelopment gets under way.

A midwife, who did not want to be named, said members of the public often used the five car parks allocated to midwives working at Christchurch Women's Hospital.

"I have been abused by the public, workmen and even prison officers [transporting prisoners for health appointments] on several occasions when I have turned up to be with a woman in labour or for an emergency and asked them to move."

She and her colleagues often struggled to find a park while trying to attend to a birth.

"I have had a colleague miss a birth as she was driving around trying to find a carpark."

When lucky enough to find a park, many had received parking tickets while supporting women in labour and unable to feed the meters, she said.

Secretary of the Canterbury branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Association Nicky Churton said a shortage of parking caused more stress for families "at an already stressful time".

Those with cystic fibrosis often had to attend clinics or be admitted to hospital on a regular basis. Parents were forced to park and walk a considerable distance with a sick child.

"We strongly feel this is something that needs to be addressed - and I can't even say urgently any more - it was urgent and its gone past that point."

Amy Whitnell said a lack of parking made a traumatic post-birth experience and several hospital stays worse, as her partner had to park at the Canterbury Horticultural Centre car park and spend more than $100 on car parking fees.

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"There are people who have to stay much longer than me and it is just beyond a joke the lengths they have to go to just to visit their loved ones."

Some reported giving up on visiting altogether.

Lyn Whyte said she was sad her 88-year-old mother could not visit her 90-year-old sister, as she could not manage the long walk from the car.

Others such as Carol Kendall, who has two frail, elderly parents, had resorted to using taxis.

"I can't just drop them off and leave them while I go and find a park - chances are I won't be able to find a park."

CDHB executive director of nursing Mary Gordon said the organisation was "working on remodelling" traffic flows at the hospital.

"We are [also] assessing several options including a park and ride scheme, as well as the possibility of increasing the number of volunteers available to help people arriving at the hospital."

A 200-car parking space was planned for the redeveloped facility, along with a new public parking building to replace the one on the corner of Tuam and Antigua Streets damaged in the earthquakes.

A comprehensive public awareness campaign on parking would get under way once a decision had been made, Gordon said.

In the meantime, she encouraged the public to choose alternative forms of transport wherever possible, or have a designated driver for trips to the hospital.

- The Press

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