THE ever-increasing pain for motorists of finding a parking space at Hunter hospitals is racking up a multimillion-dollar return for the health service.
Earnings from parking fees have increased from $3.3million to about $4.5million a year, totalling about $20million in the past five years, financial statements show.
Hunter New England Health said it was aware lack of car spaces was a problem and was investing revenue into parking services.
Visitor parking at the Rankin Park campus, which includes John Hunter Hospital, is $2.50 an hour, capped at $10 a day.
At Belmont and Maitland hospitals the cost is $4 a day.
But finding, rather than paying for, spaces is the problem.
Cars queue at peak times to get in to parking areas.
At Rankin Park, cars are often forced to drive past spaces on several levels and, finding there are no spots, circle the campus to try again.
Maitland’s limited spaces fill early in the day.
At all sites, cars spill in to surrounding streets.
Hunter New England Health capital works area manager Stewart Leeman acknowledged the problem and said money raised was being used to try to fix it.
Parking fee revenue went to a free park-and-ride shuttle service between Broadmeadow’s Hunter Stadium and the Rankin Park campus, and to maintain and enhance parking areas, Mr Leeman said.
Remaining revenue was invested back into Hunter New England Health to support frontline health care services and capital works.
‘‘We are aware parking is an issue on some of our campuses at peak times and are continuing to improve parking,’’ he said.
A 46-space staff car park was to be built at Maitland in June, 90 spaces were added at Rankin Park last year and 120 more were planned.