North Coast

HSU hails parking reprieve

The Health Services Union has hailed a decision by Lismore City Council to back down on plans to cancel its free all-day street parking scheme for staff and visitors to Lismore Base Hospital.

The scheme, introduced in April as a goodwill measure during the COVID pandemic, was set to end in January. The HSU protested to the council, labelling the move as a “big ugly road-block” to providing a speedy COVID testing service, in a regional hospital that has already seen patients waiting for hours outside clinics.

The union also said critical frontline hospital workers should not be treated like cash cows, but were set to be slugged an average of $480 a year extra for parking. This week the council backed down, and acknowledged the valuable contribution of hospital workers and their efforts to keep the community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reinstated free parking on Hunter St and Dalziel St in the hospital precinct and will waive restrictions on parking on Weaver St, Laurel Ave and McKenzie St.

“Everyone has a part to play in ending this pandemic,” said Gerard Hayes, HSU NSW Secretary.

“Hard-working hospital staff, including cleaners and wards persons, are the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

“And local residents who visit the hospital – who are often stressed and struggling with illness and disease symptoms – have appreciated this scheme.

“Free street parking makes sense both as a goodwill measure, and as a strategy to encourage visits for testing which helps stop the spread of COVID.

“The HSU intends to keep this issue on the agenda as the community approaches the September council elections. We will campaign vigorously to make free parking permanent for health workers.”