Wollongong Hospital patients and carers have welcomed news that there will be some parking fee relief come July.
Patients who need the most support will save as much as $200 a week on parking fees under the changes, which will be introduced statewide.
Northern Illawarra Hospital Group general manager Nicole Sheppard said a range of concessions had been in place at Wollongong Hospital’s $30.5 million multi-deck car park since it opened in 2015.
‘’Under the revised policy, the eligibility for concessional parking has been expanded, which enables us to further assist vulnerable patients and their carers,’’ she said.
‘’For example, long-term patients and their carers who need to attend hospital regularly for a course of treatment over a period of time.’’
The cost of parking at Wollongong Hospital has been a point of contention since the larger car park opened as part of the hospital’s expansion in recent years.
Not surprisingly, Illawarra Mercury readers responded positively to the news that more vulnerable patients and carers would have access to concessional rates.
‘’Such a relief this is for someone who frequents hospitals weekly with my daughter, this will save me loads,’’ Kathy Miller said.
However others urged the government to go further, including Michele Chambers: ‘’It is wrong that you have to pay to park in a hospital when someone is sick or dying.’’
Ms Sheppard said the hospital would now work to communicate the changes to eligible patients and visitors.
‘’In line with this policy, we will be working to better promote the availability of concessional car parking rates, both within the car parking facility and our hospital, and ensuring that the process to apply for and validate the concession is streamlined.’’
She said the new concessions were expected to be implemented from July 1 following negotiations with the car parking provider, Wilson Parking Australia.
The NSW Government has implemented the changes, after concerns of patients such as 14-year-old Gidon Goodman, who was inspired by his own experience as a long-term patient at Sydney Children’s Hospital to campaign for fairer parking fees.
‘’These changes will positively affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and will be life changing for those who have been the victims of hospital parking in the past,’’ Gidon said.
‘’This policy will ensure fair and consistent concessions statewide in all hospitals.’’