Health Minister Simon Harris has vowed to conduct a review of the car parking charges in our hospitals and promises to establish new national guidelines to inform practice in hospital car parking charges around the country.
Deputy Harris has today said that he has tasked the HSE to conduct the review of the charges, and will engage with patient advocacy groups during the process.
I want to see the issue of parking charges at hospitals addressed to help patients who have to frequently visit hospitals including cancer patients. We have never had national policy on this before. That must now change. Have asked that patient advocacy groups be involved in this https://t.co/3GuGsx3Mm9
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 16, 2018
A recent report from the Irish Independent has revealed that Letterkenny University Hospital has one of the most expensive short-stay car parks in the country, with parking costing €3 for four hours, €6 per 24 hours and €15 for a weekly rate. However, their weekly pass is amongst the cheapest in Ireland.
An Irish Cancer Society campaign revealed that across the country, cancer patients can spend up to €63 a week on parking.
Minister Harris said: “I have heard from many patients, as well as groups such as the Irish Cancer Society, in relation to car parking charges in our hospitals and the need for national guidelines.
“I know that some hospitals do take into account the pressure that these charges can put on patients and families who are dealing with illness, particularly long-term illness, and have measures in place to alleviate this pressure. However, I want to make sure that we have national guidelines in place to inform practice in hospital parking charges around the country.
“I have now asked the HSE to carry out a review of hospital car parking charges, with the aim of establishing clear national guidelines on this area for the first time.
“I have asked the HSE to engage with the Irish Cancer Society and other patient advocacy groups, in order to ensure that the review takes account of the circumstances of patients, particularly those who require long-term care.
“This review will examine existing arrangements within hospitals, the financial impact of parking charges on patients and families, the data in relation to the income generated from these charges, and any other factors.
“It is my intention that we will then have clear national guidelines on this area for the very first time.”
We warmly welcome yesterday's announcement by Minister Simon Harris of a review of the car parking charges in our hospitals and his commitment to establish new national guidelines to inform practice in hospital car parking charges around the country. pic.twitter.com/H73JJIeW3H
— Irish Cancer Society (@IrishCancerSoc) March 16, 2018
The Irish Cancer Society has welcomed this morning’s news, and hopes it will lighten the financial burden of patients and visitors who spend time in Ireland’s hospitals.
“The Society consistently hears from cancer patients about the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis and we have, for some time, called for national guidelines for car parking in hospitals,” a spokesperson says.
“We welcome the opportunity to engage with the Minister and the HSE to find solutions which take into account the needs of patients who are required to regularly visit our hospitals for cancer treatment. We will work to ensure early adoption of new patient focused car parking charges.”
Earlier this week, Sinn Féin called for a total scrap of hospital charges.
Donegal SF Senator Padraig MacLochlainn welcomed the party’s calls, and commented: “Hospital car parking fees are an unnecessary nuisance for the families and friends of hospital patients.
“In some cases these fees bring financial hardship to families who are worried about the health of their loved ones.
“Sinn Féin has explored the possibility of scrapping hospital parking fees and I welcome that this measure will now be included in our manifesto for the next general election.”