Outrage over pay to park hospitals plan
By Rebecca Brice
A plan to charge visitors and staff to park at more Adelaide hospitals is attracting wide condemnation.
The Health Department wants suburban sites brought into line with those in the city, but critics say some of the state's most vulnerable people will be affected.
For eight months, Charles Brice has been in Hampstead Hospital recovering from a motorcycle crash and getting daily visits from family and friends.
"I couldn't imagine going through it without the support that I have had. If I hadn't had them I definitely wouldn't be in the same state of mind that I am today," he said.
Annabelle Reeve visits him at least once a week, but says that may change when the Health Department starts charging $13 per day for parking.
"I'm a uni student and all of Charles' friends are at uni so it would make a big difference. You know we'd sort of think twice about coming out," she said.
Hospital staff could pay more than $560 per year for parking in what their union says would be a back door pay cut.
The new parking charges will be rolled out across Adelaide, including at the Queen Elizabeth, Modbury, Glenside and Repatriation hospitals.
Jan McMahon of the Public Service Association says it is unacceptable.
"The difficulty that I don't think the Government has realised is that many shift workers can't leave a shift and get onto public transport," she said.
"They need to be able to take their car to work, to get to work and deliver good services."
Port Adelaide Enfield Council has joined the chorus of opponents, urging the SA Government to scrap the plan.
It fears streets surrounding Hampstead will be clogged with the cars of people trying to avoid parking charges.
The Health Department says some sites already charge while others do not and it wants to "provide a consistent minimum fee structure for staff and patients across metropolitan hospitals".
It says there will still be free drop-off spaces and discounted weekly rates will be available.