Visiting a loved one or making an appointment in hospital is most expensive for South Aucklanders – a Herald survey shows they are stung $9 for just two hours, and $23 for a day.
Other hospitals across town make up the country’s most expensive ($8.20 for up to two hours at North Shore and Waitakere, $7.50 at Auckland City Hospital), and are way above regional charging, which is free or as low as $1.50 for three hours.
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The cost and availability of hospital car parking is becoming an increasing concern, with cash-strapped DHBs preferring to put money into buildings or equipment.
Some hospitals have private parking companies in charge of spaces.
At Middlemore, a private company built a multi-storey carpark, in exchange for the rights to run parking at the hospital. ACC’s investment arm bought those rights in 2012, and currently makes millions of dollars a year, with Wilson Parking acting as its management company.
A DHB spokesperson said families of patients in hospital for more than seven days can apply for hardship assistance and get a $50 pass for a week of parking.
There’s 30 minutes free parking during visiting hours. Parking at Manukau SuperClinic is free.
“Visitors are encouraged to use public transport with both the train station and bus stop located directly outside the hospital’s Galbraith entrance.”
DHBs can plead poverty when explaining charges. “Paid car parking is a part of our financial sustainability programme,” Northland DHB wrote when outlining charges at Whangarei Hospital, including $5 for up to three hours.
“[It] will allow us to save our very scarce capital funds for improving and renewing our clinical buildings, and continue to allow us to grow and develop clinical services in an increasingly tight fiscal environment.”
Christchurch residents have faced one of the worst situations in terms of finding somewhere to park near the hospital, after an earthquake-damaged 375-space building was demolished in 2016. In September new parking projects were announced, including a 450-space building to be built and managed by Ngāi Tahu Property, in partnership with Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
Auckland City Hospital needs about 100 more parking spaces to help meet demand. On weekdays it can take longer than 30 minutes to get into the grounds and to a car parking building.
University students have been asked to not take up spots meant for visitors, and staff encouraged to take the bus or train.
The DHB last year investigated the cost and payback period for building another 500 car parks.
The cheapest option would be to extend Car Park B at a cost of around $44 million, which would take between 35 and 38 years to pay off, based on current car park revenues. The renal dialysis unit would also need to be moved.
Auckland Grey Power president Gillian Dance told the Herald the cost of parking at the hospital was a concern, and the 15 minute free period was not nearly enough for anyone attending any sort of appointment.
The four DHBs that make up the northern region – Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau – made a case for a new hospital, possibly two, in their recent Northern Region Long Term Investment Plan.
Over the next 20 years nearly 60 per cent of New Zealand’s population growth will be in Auckland and Northland, the report found, with medium growth forecasts predicting another 562,000 people in the region.
The number of people aged over 75 is expected to more than double in that time, and the northern DHBs predict another 2055 beds and 41 theatres will be required.
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