The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says all DHBs should continue offering free parking to all essential workers now that Aotearoa New Zealand has moved from Rahui (Lockdown) Level 4 to Level 3.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says it is disappointing that Auckland, Waitematā and Northland DHBs have started charging health workers again for parking after the country moved down alert levels, whereas other DHBs having not re-introduced such changes.
"In a time where we’re being asked to act with kindness, this decision feels opportunistic and a little bit mean-spirited.
"Just because DHBs are returning to business as usual as we move into Rahui Level 3, that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is any less of a challenge for our frontline people.
"In fact, we’re hearing serious concerns from health care workers across the sector, especially from those working in surgery and critical care, that the move to Level 3 will increase workloads as people with non-COVID-19 related health issues seek treatment.
"This will worsen the pressure felt by our already stressed and fatigued frontline staff and they still need every bit of support and acknowledgement possible."
Ms Nuku says that, in addition to alleviating their stress, extending free parking would be a small but concrete way that appreciation could be shown to nursing staff.
"This is supposed to be the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and 12 May is International Nurses Day. Could we not show nurses and other essential workers a little bit of kindness at this time by extending free parking until at least the end of May?
"These are our frontline people who sacrifice so much for the wellbeing of us all. That they received free parking across the country was really appreciated. Is now the time to be taking that away?"
Ms Nuku commended the DHBs that have chosen not to treat nurses as a source of income at this time.