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St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo
hospital parking

Govt won't oppose hospital parking bill, but department 'working on plans' to cap daily charge

The private members’ bill is being brought forward by the Aontú party.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL not oppose a new bill that will propose that parking should be free of charge for people attending out-patient appointments at public hospitals.

The private members’ bill is being brought forward by the Aontú party.

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

It also commits to introducing flexible passes in all public hospitals for patients and their families.

  • Read more here on how you can support a Noteworthy investigation into why patients and families still pay high rates to park at hospitals.

A spokesperson said that the Government will not oppose the bill when it is tabled this week. 

It is understood that the Government is working on its own proposals to deal with parking at hospitals.

However, sources indicated that fees will not be scrapped because of concerns that there would be an overload of people using hospital carparks if this were to happen. 

Senior sources acknowledged that the issue has been discussed for many years, and that promises for action have been made repeatedly.

In 2018, the then Health Minister Simon Harris ordered the HSE to carry out a review of its parking services.

The review recommended that car parking fees at public hospitals should remain in place, and that a maximum daily rate and setting up of multi-entry and weekly tickets would be the “best way forward”.

A statement from the Department of Health to The Journal said that “consideration is being given to how best to ensure this commitment is addressed, taking account of existing arrangements already in place”.

“The HSE has previously advised that hospitals that currently charge car parking fees are very cognisant of the financial implications of parking costs and many hospitals have introduced maximum daily fixed parking charges and reduced rate parking for long-term patients and visitors for whom the payment of the full rate would cause hardship.”

The Social Democrats highlighted in their recent bill on the cost of cancer care in Ireland that extortionate parking fees are hitting patients whose finances may already be badly hit by loss of income.

Patients and their families have been raising issues with parking charges in hospital car parks for many years.

HSE-run hospitals are generating around €12 million a year in hospital parking income, with a number of hospitals charging between €10-€25 a day. 

2019 report from the Irish Cancer Society conservatively estimates the additional costs for cancer patients is between €756 per month to €1,000 per month.

Speaking in advance of the Aontú’s Hospital Parking Bill being debated at Second Stage in the Dáil this Thursday, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín called on all parties in the Dáil to support its passage and ensure patients are not paying thousands in parking charges whilst battling for their health and lives.

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