BY ANDREW BARCLAY
Each day on his way to work Shaun* must decide whether to arrive two hours early and search for one of the few metered street parking spots or pay twenty-dollars in the adjacent car park.
If he chooses the former, he must move his car every two hours to avoid a fine.
The third option is to catch a bus. But, given he often does shift work and lives in Bronte, notoriously difficult when it comes to public transport, this option doesn’t offer much convenience either.
A trainee surgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, known as RPA, Shaun’s situation is representative of the plight faced by many employees after the car park’s lease was not renewed last November.
The site has been used by the hospital since 1996, but in November last year the owner halved the number of bays available for hospital staff to around 600 – and only if you were lucky enough to get a permit.
“If you weren’t lucky enough to get a permit you’re stuffed,” Shaun told City Hub.
What’s more, when the owner Macquarie International Health Clinic, took back the car park they increased prices from $7 per exit in March to $12– or $20 for those who do not have a permit.
“If you don’t want to pay twenty-dollars a day, then you basically have to move house,” he said.
Shaun says it is hitting nurses the hardest.
“A lot of nurses are struggling.”
“It’s causing a pay divide.”
Given the starting salary for a nurse is $48,000, the impact of paying $100 a week for parking can become a real imposition – and the issue is starting to impact staff retention.
Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association says it is impacting those people just starting out the hardest.
“Especially those starting out in their nursing and midwifery carers and other health workers who are not paid extremely well,” he said.
“It’s having a real impact on livelihood.”
Close to half of 63 nurses said they would consider resigning over the issue, according to a survey by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.
Mr Holmes says beyond the financial impact, security was also a concern.
“The real world limitations of public transport and security late at night are factors too,” he said.
“We’re very disappointed in a situation where the hospital is at the mercy of a private corporation.”
To assist employees the Sydney Local Health District, or SLHD, has organised a free shuttle to Redfern train station and arranged for staff to park at White Bay with a shuttle service to the hospital while a new car park is built.
The change comes as the SLHD said plans for a new car park on the campus had been confirmed.
“The board and executive of SLHD and RPA recognise that the car parking situation is continuing to cause significant frustration and inconvenience,” the SLHD chief executive said in a statement to staff last week.
Entrepreneurial locals have tried to cash in on the issue, with one listing on website Gumtree offering a “clean, modern and dry” car park for $242 a month.
“Would suit residents in Camperdown, Newtown and Annandale, or workers in the local area,” the listing said.
Construction of the new car park build is expected to take 12 months.
*Not his real name.