financial burden | 

Hospitals charging up to €25 a day for car parking despite promise of reform

HSE-run hospitals are generating around €12m a year in hospital parking income
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda

Eilish O'Regan

Several hospitals are continuing to charge more than €10 a day for car parking charges, despite a promise to cap the daily cost three years ago.

They include a charge of up to €25 for one of the car parks in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.

The South Infirmary in Cork charges €13.95, St James's Hospital Dublin €15 and University Hospital Kerry €12.

The daily charge is €15 in both Cork University Hospital and the Mater Hospital in Dublin. St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin charges €14.50 for daily parking.

HSE-run hospitals are generating around €12m a year in hospital parking income.

A review in 2018 found that nine hospitals provided free car parking and of the 34 that have fee-paying car parks, 32 had some form of exemption in place, according to Yvonne Goff, the HSE's national director of acute strategy and planning.

"Hospitals introduced car parking charges over the past decade to cover such services' costs without impacting the hospitals' budget for patient services," she told Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart.

"As demand for car parking at hospitals increases, so too does the associated cost of providing these services, such as the initial capital cost of purchasing or renting parking areas, the cost of developing extra parking spaces, the need to provide and upgrade security systems, provide staffing and general maintenance of the car parks."

She said exemptions for parking charges range from flexible day passes, or multi-trip entry passes for regular hospital attendees, to specific concessions based on the type of inpatient.

The Programme for Government commits to introducing a cap on the maximum daily charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals and where possible introduce flexible passes.

Ms Goff added: "The Department of Health and the HSE are engaging on this issue in order to achieve this new Programme for Government commitment."

A recent report from the Irish Cancer Society on the cost to families from childhood cancer found almost all experienced costs related to getting to and from appointments.

These costs include transportation, parking, eating out, accommodation, and items such as tolls and car servicing.

"The median cost per month is €398, while the average is €989," it said.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: "The Programme for Government makes a commitment to introduce a cap on the maximum daily charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals where possible and to introduce flexible passes in all public hospitals for patients and their families.

I am very aware of the financial burden this issue can cause some patients and families.

"Accordingly, my department and the HSE are currently examining the issue, including consideration of the review submitted in 2018."

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