Mother pleads for cheaper parking at new children’s hospital

Mother pleads for cheaper parking at new children’s hospital

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Member for Armadale Tony Buti and Seville Grove resident Deb Butler. Ms Butler spent more than 200 days at Princess Margaret Hospital in 2014 and was worried what the increased parking fees will do to families at the new Perth Children’s Hospital. Photograph — Matt Devlin.
Member for Armadale Tony Buti and Seville Grove resident Deb Butler. Ms Butler spent more than 200 days at Princess Margaret Hospital in 2014 and was worried what the increased parking fees will do to families at the new Perth Children’s Hospital. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

The State Government looks unlikely to reduce hourly parking rates at the new Perth Children’s Hospital in Nedlands despite a public backlash and would instead focus on a concession system.

Seville Grove mother of five Deb Butler was leading fight after starting a petition that has received more than 4500 signatures calling for the government and private car park builder and operator to rethink parking prices.

Families will pay an hourly rate of $3.30 at the hospital’s new parking facilities.

Families currently pay 60 cents an hour at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Ms Butler has three haemophiliac sons and spent more than $2000 in parking fees in more than 200 days while her son Hunter was at Princess Margaret Hospital in 2014.

She said on top of the fees she paid she was forced to quit her job to look after Hunter and her other children so the family’s income took a huge hit.

She was worried about the stress the increased cost would add to families who will use the new hospital.

“I think it’s disgusting, I can’t understand it,” she said.

“Consider the fact that as much as you love your kids you don’t ask to be in this position, my children didn’t ask to be in this position, I just think it’s added stress.”

Ms Butler said to acquire parking concessions at Princess Margaret was a more difficult process than it needed to be and she urged the State Government to improve it at the new hospital.

Member for Armadale Tony Buti criticised the fees.

“The government seems to be quite lax in spending money on other issues like the opening of the Elizabeth Quay…but suddenly when it comes to a children’s hospital every dime, every penny has to be accounted for,” he said.

Health Minister John Day said he wanted to reassure people concessions would be available to those who needed them.

“While the hourly rates are changing, the quality and quantity of car parking will be far superior to Princess Margaret Hospital and the fees appear relatively low, when compared with paediatric hospitals in other capital cities,” he said.

“However, I want to reassure people there will be support for those who need it, and they can be confident of fair charges during what can be stressful times.

“I have requested the Health Department work with the Health Consumers Council to finalise the subsidy system, which was already planned for car parking at Perth Children’s Hospital.

“This will likely result in a voucher system similar to that operating at PMH – offering concessions, for instance, to cancer, and renal patients and high-frequency visitors and their families, plus others on a case-by-case basis.

The availability of the concession system will be publicised on the hospital website.”

Mr Day said construction of the new car park by the private sector saved $125 million that could be spent on providing better health services.

Visitors to the rest of the country’s major hospitals pay more than $5 an hour with Brisbane hospital visitors paying up to $14 an hour.