Parking charges in hospital grounds generate €1. 2m

By Mary Dennehy

CAR-parking charges at Tallaght University Hospital generated an income of €1.2m in 2017, the sixth highest revenue received nationally that year through car-parking fees at acute hospitals.

According to the most recent information provided by the HSE in response to a recent parliamentary question, €22.5m was received in revenue from hospital car-parking charges nationally in 2017.

Tallaght University Hospital 1

Tallaght University Hospital says it has flexible day and monthly passes

Some of the highest incomes generated in 2017 include Cork University Hospital (€3.1m), Vincent’s (€2.5m), St James’s (€2,059,250), Galway Univers-ity Hospital (€1,449,902), Beaumont (€1,251,433), Tal-laght University Hospital (€1.2m), University Hospital Waterford (€1,186,984), Uni-versity Hospital Limerick (€1,044,819) and the Mater (€1m).

According to the HSE, nine acute hospitals nationwide provide free parking.

In recent years, hospital car-parking charges have been the subject of much debate, with calls made to significantly reduce or scrap the fees.

In 2016, the Irish Cancer Society also published a report called Park the Charges, which revealed that cancer patients were facing parking costs of up to €63 a week, on top of the many out-of-pocket payments cancer patients already face.

In response to a recent parliamentary question by Dublin Mid-West TD Gino Kenny (People Before Profit Alliance), the HSE said: “car-parking charges were introduced by hospitals over the past decade to cover the costs of such services without impacting on the hospitals’ budget for patient services.

“The HSE does not have a single contract to provide parking services at all hospitals, instead each hospital has its own arrangements, which reflect their particular circumstances.”

According to the figures provided, 22 hospitals operate and manage their car park themselves, while 16, including Tallaght University Hospital (TUH), use a private provider.

When contacted by The Echo about income generated by car-parking charges, a spokesperson for TUH said that “the money is part of the hospital’s revenue budget which goes to providing front-line services”.

The spokesperson added: “TUH has both flexible day and monthly passes for multi-entry.

“The maximum daily charge is capped at €10 for all, as per the recommendations of the HSE report.”

Describing hospital car-parking charges as a “tax on the sick”, Deputy Kenny said: “I am increasingly aware of the financial burden placed on day and outpatients, and family members visiting sick relatives in hospital.

“I find that these charges are excessive and unjust and effectively amount to a tax on sick people and their families.

“If nine hospitals can still manage to provide free parking for patients, visitors and staff, it is hard to fathom why other public hospitals cannot.”

He added: “While I know that pro-charge advocates will argue that these car parks could be used by commuters looking for free parking, in this technological age there are a number of ways around this.

“For example, including barcodes on appointment letters which could be swiped at barriers.

“Similar arrangements could be put in place for visitors.

“I will be following up with further PQs to find out how the money raised is used and what percentage is retained by companies.

“I will also be calling for the abolition of car-parking charges in public hospitals as it places a cruel and unnecessary burden on sick people and their families.”

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