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Council to implement identification system for healthcare worker vehicles to prevent clamping

There have been a number of reports in recent days of healthcare workers at hospitals having their cars clamped while they were working overtime.

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Updated Mar 18th 2020, 5:39 PM

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has said it is endeavouring to put in place a formal identification procedure for vehicles belonging to medical professionals to ensure parking facilities can be prioritised for them and to prevent clamping. 

The statement this evening from the council comes after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) told TheJournal.ie it had raised the issue of car parking charges for staff with the HSE.

Several hospital groups have now also confirmed that they have told private contractors not to clamp staff, or that they have made free parking facilities available to staff. 

There have been a number of reports in recent days of healthcare workers at hospitals having their cars clamped while they were working overtime.

Dublin City Council has this evening confirmed that it has instructed its parking enforcement contractor Dublin Street Parking Services to “exercise discretion” in terms of clamping cars on roads and streets surrounding hospitals, the Department of Health and HSE offices. 

The council said it is endeavouring to put in place a more formal identification procedure for vehicles belonging to medical professionals and staff associated with medical facilities, to ensure spaces around these locations can be prioritised for the medical staff.

Today Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward said he has been contacted by several staff who have not had access to free parking in the hospitals where they work.

“Public car parks in hospitals are not at full capacity now due to restrictions put in place because of Covid-19,” he said.

He said healthcare workers and other staff should be able to avail of these spaces, free of charge.

“Not only will this be a small gesture of appreciation to these unsung heroes, but it will also help staff to continue to stay safe and carry on their vital duties,” Ward said.

“It is difficult for staff to maintain social distancing guidelines if they are forced to use public transport due to lack of car parking facilities at their hospital.”

He said he has contacted the HSE asking that any free capacity in hospital car parks be used for front line health care workers and other staff during the outbreak. 

Fine Gael councillor James Geoghan also said the partner of a nurse at an acute hospital in Dublin reached out to him over the weekend expressing concern that the nurse was spending €15 a day in parking.

“The Taoiseach captured the mood of the nation last night describing our health care staff as superheroes and in my view, superheroes should not have to pay for parking,” he said.

Geoghan said everyone needs to “do all that we can to make the lives of the thousands of healthcare workers across Ireland that little bit easier”. 

Hospital groups

Dublin City Council said all clamping across the city would not cease, but it is looking at ways to ensure healthcare staff are not impacted. 

“Normal clamping and enforcement activities are still ongoing and will remain in place to ensure that motorists continue to park legally and that vehicles obstructing entrances, disabled bays etc can be removed.  

In the circumstances we would urge all other drivers not to park in the vicinity of medical facilities and to leave these spaces free for medical professionals.

Medical professionals and staff working in the Covid-19 test centre at Croke Park can park inside the stadium. the council said parking at other testing locations will be addressed on a case by case basis.

“Dublin City Council doesn’t run any hospital car parks, they are run by private companies,” it added.

Medical professionals throughout the city are doing a wonderful job and we will always support them any way we can.

A statement issued on behalf of Beaumont Hospital this evening stated: 

The car parking facilities at Beaumont Hospital are operated by a third party company. Beaumont Hospital has instructed the company not to clamp any staff vehicles, regardless of their rationale, during this period.

UL Hospitals said staff parking is provided free of charge across its sites. 

“Some sites, such as University Hospital Limerick, experience considerable demand for staff parking,” the group said.

Staff who car pool are allocated priority car parkign spaces while the group is also trialing a park and ride scheme at Garryowen FC, with a shuttle bus between here and UHL. This pilot is working well.

“We are unaware of any complaints from staff in recent days relating to cars being clamped.”

A spokesperson for the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group told TheJournal.ie that “no concerns have been highlighted with regard to parking” at its hospitals.

She said the group was taking all the necessary measures to facilitate extra staff parking requirements. 

“All hospitals within the DMHG have adequate car parking facilities for staff. For example, St James’s Hospital staff have been given full access (24 hours a day from Monday-Sunday) to the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences car park on campus free of charge,” she explained.

The public surface car park has also been opened to staff with full access (24 hours a day from Monday-Sunday) free of charge. These are in addition to the car parking spaces already available to staff free of charge.

In a statement read out on RTÉ’s Liveline programme today. David Cullen of Euro Car Parks, which operates the Mater Hospital’s car park, said it has suspended all clamping activity nationwide with the exception of crucial A&E areas. 

TheJournal.ie asked the HSE what action it is taking to facilitate free parking for staff at hospitals. A spokesperson said queries on car parking charges needed to be directed to each individual hospital group.

They did not give details of HSE management’s action on this issue. 

All of the hospital groups have been contacted for comment.

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