25 Jan 2023

Christchurch Hospital staff parking: Ministry explores other options but no timeframe on overdue extension

7:16 am on 25 January 2023
The existing, secure staff carpark on Antigua Street was meant to have two additional storeys added by October last year.

The existing, secure staff carpark on Antigua Street was meant to have two additional storeys added by October last year. Photo: RNZ / Niva Chittock

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha says it does not know when a decision will be made on whether to proceed with an overdue extension to an existing secure parking building at Christchurch Hospital.

But it said it was also looking at other options.

RNZ has reported some of the hospital's nurses feel their safety was being put at risk while the project is on hold.

In recent years, nurses have been assaulted, stalked or had their cars vandalised while using public parks around the hospital.

In a statement, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha said it was "sympathetic and supportive" of the parking problem.

"We are very aware of how vulnerable some of our staff at Christchurch Hospital feel getting to and from their cars in the dark before or after a shift.

"We recognise that there aren't enough spaces in the area to meet current public and staff demand, which is why we continue to work with Ngāi Tahu, the Ministry of Health, local MPs, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, the Police and other key partners on finding solutions to improve parking, transport and safety in and around the hospital campus."

A two-storey addition to an existing secure staff parking building on Antigua Street, which would add 238 parks, was meant to be completed by last October.

"We do not have a timeframe on when a decision will be made about [the Antigua Street extension]," it said.

But Te Whatu Ora Waitaha said it was exploring other solutions in the meantime.

"This includes [fast-tracking] the demolition of the old boiler house to accommodate additional staff parking (subject to funding), leasing floors of a potential carpark build on Tuam Street and extending the staff shuttle to Deans Avenue and the surrounding staff carparks and streets post 1am."

At the moment, the shuttle specifically to transport staff to their cars operated between 8.45pm and 1am.

In the statement, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha also detailed a number of safety initiatives and protocols already in place.

"We have priority parking for staff on our night shift should they choose to use it and we ensure 50 percent of our staff car park building is available for staff on afternoon shifts.

"We work with the police and Christchurch City Council to ensure we have a co-ordinated approach to helping keep people safe, including police patrol routes and a regular presence, and good street lighting in the area."

It said staff could also make a request for a security escort to their vehicle. This was subject to security staff availability, but Te Whatu Ora Waitaha said it was "able to facilitate this most of the time with just a short wait, especially after 1am when the shuttle has stopped running".

Security staff carried out both foot and vehicle patrols as well, the statement added.

"A nightly security patrol in a highly visible Allied Security vehicle patrols the main roads around the Christchurch Campus" and "security guard patrols on the main walking route between the campus and the staff carparks [operate] between 10 and 11.30pm (timed to coincide with the end of an afternoon shift and the beginning of a night shift)."

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha said it was always open to feedback and suggestions that would help keep staff safe as they arrive and leave their workplace.

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