The West

About 350 angry nurses rallied at parliament house to protest at parking fees at Perth hospitals.

The Australian Nursing Federation says parking fees are set to rise more than seven-fold at some hospitals over three years under a State Government plan.

Nurses gathered at parliament house at 1.30pm today to protest against the charges and to call for affordable parking to be made available at State hospitals for staff and patients.

“It’s a disgrace that we’re the richest State in the country and we don’t have enough parking for patients, families and the staff,” ANF secretary Mark Olson said.

He said at Fremantle hospital staff parking fees will increase to $7.50 per day by 2014.

He said that at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital, parking costs $4.80 a day, up from $1.50 in 2010.

Shift work often prohibits nurses from using public transport, he said.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Kim Hames said the State Government would scrap fees at Osborne Park Hospital and decrease fees at Fremantle Hospital, while pegging future increases at Fremantle, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital to CPI increases.

But prices at RPH and SCG are set to stay high as the government believes costs reflect demand for parking in these areas.

Staff will be able to salary package parking as of next month, she said.

A committee found last month the fees represented a tax and were based on policy objectives rather than cost recovery.

Mr Olson said attempts had been made to ensure disruption to hopsitals were minimised but it was not clear if procedures would be disrupted.

"We're expecting about 500 to 800 workers to be walking off the job from all of the major public sector hospitals," Mr Olson said.

"Such is the magnitude of this problem that our members have determined that this is the type of action they have to take and this is the only way the politicians will get the message."

Mr Olson says if the increases continued, parking costs fees at public hospitals could rise as much as 700 per cent.

"We have said to the Government that nurses are prepared to pay a reasonable fee that is weighted with the CPI, that goes up with the CPI," he told the ABC. "They don't think it's appropriate that they be forced away from parking their cars and remember the majority of our members are working shift work."

Mr Olson said MPs would debate the issue in State Parliament today.

A Health Department spokesman said the union had given an assurance there would be no disruption to hospital services as a result of the strike.

The West Australian

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