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Fine Gael promises to cap hospital parking at €10 per day, SF says fees should be scrapped altogether

Public hospitals earned just over €11.7 million from car parking fees last year.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FINE GAEL’S MANIFESTO will commit to capping hospital parking charges at €10 per day in all HSE hospitals. 

The party has also committed to rolling out multi-day parking passes for patients and family members who frequently have to visit hospital and pay for parking. 

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

Public hospitals earned just over €11.7 million from car parking fees last year.

The HSE does not currently provide guidelines on hospital car parking – each hospital, or hospital group, implements its own guidelines.

Speaking last summer, Health Minister Simon Harris said hospitals that charge parking fees are “very cognisant of the financial implications of parking costs for patients and their families, particularly for those with long-term illnesses”.

As a result, some hospitals have introduced a maximum daily fixed parking charge already.

Some hospitals also already provide reduced car parking fees for patients with cancer who are attending for long-term treatment.

However, the minister acknowledged that there are many conditions which can require long-term care and that it is difficult to prioritise one over another.

In March 2018, the minister asked the HSE to conduct a review of hospital car parking charges with a view to establishing clear national guidelines in the area. 

Last month, Harris said his Department was working on an implementation plan in tandem with the HSE “to accompany the review report”. 

With the election campaign trail in full swing, Fine Gael is now promising patients a cap on parking charges. 

But it is not just Fine Gael tackling the issue. 

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said her party will follow Scotland’s model and phase out all parking charges, stating: “They are a tax on ill health.”

The Scottish government scrapped hospital parking charges across NHS Scotland in 2008, though they still remain in three hospital sites. 

Fianna Fáil Louth councillor and general election candidate James Byrne has raised the issue of parking at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where the main car park charges at €2 per hour, capped at €20 per day.

The short-term car park in the grounds of the hospital is €4 per hour capped at €40 per day. In contrast, at Cavan General Hospital the fee is €3 regardless of how long you stay.

He said the current system, which sees fees determined depending on location, is deeply unfair and the practice of implementing higher charges for spaces nearer the main entrances is simply wrong.

TheJournal.ie contacted Fianna Fáil HQ to ask for details on their election policy in relation to hospital car parking fees, but the party had not responded as of the time of publication.

Today is the final day for candidates to get on their local ballot for the 8 February election. Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and FF’s Micheál Martin will clash tonight in the first major televised debate of the campaign on Virgin Media One. 

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