THE daily struggle to find parking at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh will be solved if the plan to build a multi-storey car park comes to fruition.

Perak health committee chairman Mohd Akmal Kamaruddin said discussions have been held with the state health department and the hospital over the latter’s lack of parking spaces.

He said the construction of a multi-storey car park had been mooted.

“Several areas have been identified as possible locations to build the multi-storey car park.

“However, the matter is still under discussion.

“We have to consider the factor involving the load of the structure on the ground and other nearby buildings that may be affected,” said Mohd Akmal.

Finding a place to park is infuriating for many visitors as well as hospital staff.

Even with the new Women, Children and Cardiology Complex reportedly having about 300 parking spaces, staff and visitors are still competing for parking spaces.

According to a hospital employee who wished to remain anonymous, hospital management recently blocked half of the new complex’s parking spaces for visitors, causing inconvenience to medical staff.

The employee said this followed a complaint from a visitor earlier this year that the resort’s parking lot had been closed to the public.

“We have had problems with inadequate parking for years.

“About a year ago, the situation was a little better for us once the complex opened, with a handful of doctors and staff able to find parking.

“Following the complaint, half of the parking spaces are now reserved for visitors.

“The guards there don’t allow us to park even though there are vacant bays.”

The employee said the latest decision was unfair to hospital staff, especially doctors who would be busy caring for patients.

“Some doctors are even forced to double park and leave their number on the dashboard.

“They will then have to run to get their cars out when someone calls them.

“Some of our cars have even been scratched from double or triple parking.”

The employee said that some staff, especially doctors, should have priority for parking.

“Just imagine the time it takes to get in and out of the clinic, sometimes leaving a patient in the ward or clinic just to park our cars.

“It’s a total waste of energy.

“And recently when Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin visited the hospital, we were all allowed to park in the compound just for that day.

“Is it to hide the problems we face? Isn’t he (the minister) the person who should know the problem and solve it?

“We deserve to be treated fairly,” added the employee.

Perak Health Department Director Datuk, Dr Ding Lay Ming, reportedly said last month that it was just a misunderstanding and that the hospital had not closed the parking lot of the new complex to the public.

Dr Ding noted that the closure was only temporary to limit the number of visitors to the building due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases earlier this year.

The hospital has around 5,000 staff and receives around 800 visitors daily.

There are currently 1,188 parking spaces within the hospital grounds, of which 52% or 614 spaces are reserved for staff and around 300 others outside the premises.

Nearby there are two car parks.

One is located opposite the Greentown Health Clinic which can accommodate about 200 cars and is about 650m from the hospital.

The other parking area is at the mosque next to the hospital, which can accommodate 117 cars, with shuttle services provided.

Teacher Nurul Ain Ariffin, 30, said the shortest time it took her to find a parking space at the hospital was 20 minutes.

“I consider myself lucky if I can park my car on the hospital grounds.

“Most of the time I have to wait a long time for a place,” she said, adding that she regularly accompanied her mother, a kidney patient, to the hospital.

Freelancer Mohd Amru Md Radzi rides his motorbike to the hospital.

The 34-year-old, who takes his seven-year-old son to hospital for treatment for thalassemia several times a week, said it was a way to avoid the parking problem.

“If it’s raining, I just use the ehailing service instead.

“But at the moment the motorbike is more convenient because I can also avoid traffic jams between my home in Tanjung Rambutan and the hospital,” he said.

Lawyer Naziatul Azrin Faizal, 39, who has been seeking treatment for an autoimmune disease in hospital since 2015, prefers to park in the parking lot across from the Greentown Health Clinic.

“It’s only a few minutes walk from there to the hospital.

“It’s just easier to park there instead of waiting and looking for a parking space on the hospital grounds.

“While this may be fine for most able-bodied people, it is not for those with mobility issues or the elderly,” she said.

Naziatul said there were a lot of things to consider if she had to park inside the hospital grounds.

“It takes a long time to find and wait for a parking space and it wastes fuel,” she said while noting that nowadays most people use the phone service, taxi or the bus to get to the hospital.

She said the parking issues weren’t limited to the Ipoh facility, but generally affected other hospitals across the country.

Mohd Akmal advised people to park opposite the Greentown Health Clinic or at the mosque for the time being.

“Use the shuttle services provided by the hospital,” he said.

John Smith

The author John Smith