HSU calls on Lismore City Council to rethink cancellation of free on-street parking near COVID testing clinic

Health Services Union ACT and NSW

The Health Services Union has today called on Lismore City Council to reconsider a decision to cancel its free all-day street parking scheme for staff and visitors to Lismore Base Hospital.

The cancellation of the popular successful scheme is slated for this Monday 18th January, after it was introduced last April, as a good-will measure during the COVID pandemic.

The HSU says the decision is a “big ugly road-block” to providing a speedy COVID testing service – in a regional hospital which has already seen patients waiting up to four hours outside clinics.

“I am flabbergasted that Lismore City Council would crab-walk away from its clever decision to offer free street parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision just punishes local residents who do the right thing and visit the hospital for vital COVID tests – and who are already struggling with hours long delays, wearing masks during high temperatures and social distancing pressures” said Gerard Hayes, HSU Secretary.

“The last thing patients with COVID symptoms want to do is fumble with credit cards and unsterilised pay-station touchscreens after finding a park. The HSU is calling on council to allow free-parking to continue, which will help speed up screening of our local community for COVID and help keep our state border virus-free.” said Mr Hayes.

The HSU has contacted the Council today seeking to discuss a further extension of the free-parking scheme, until Australia is declared COVID-free.

“Local residents who visit the hospital – who are often stressed and struggling with illness and disease symptoms have appreciated this scheme. I hope Lismore City Council rethink this money-grab which has quietly been scheduled for the summer holiday season.” said Mr Hayes.

He said staff, who are working harder than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic should not be treated like “cash-cows” by their council, which will now slug staff members an average of $480 a year extra for parking.

“Hard-working hospital staff, including cleaners and wards persons are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, and should not be slugged with this short-sighted revenue raising measures in 2021. They are bravely dealing with the daily problems of a deadly pandemic. Free street parking makes sense both as a good will measure, and as a strategy to encourage visits for testing which helps stop the spread of COVID, and in turn avoid a damaging lockdown of our state economy.” said Mr Hayes.

“Everyone has a part to play in ending this pandemic, we are calling on the local Lismore City Councillors to step in and ensure the right and responsible decision on free parking is made next Monday”.

/Public Release.