No opposition to free parking for hospital outpatient appointments

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Cars parked at the entrance to University Hospital Limerick

LIMERICK Aontú representative Sarah Beasley has welcomed confirmation that the government will not oppose a Bill proposed by her party that would mean free parking for outpatient appointments at public hospitals.

Ms Beasley, who is Aontú’s National Secretary, explained that the Bill ensures patients are not paying thousands of euro in parking charges while battling for their health and lives.

The Bill provides for an entitlement to free parking for up to three hours in the car park of a public hospital, where an occupant of the vehicle is attending the hospital to receive outpatient services.

“Every day hundreds of people get earth shattering diagnosis that effects their health and lives to their core. Cancer, stroke, heart disease, mental health diagnosis can change the lives of the patient and their loved ones forever. What many people don’t realise is the financial toll it can take,” Ms Beasley said.

The Irish Cancer Society estimate that it can cost €862 per month, rising to €1,200 in some cases for a person with cancer.

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“This is not counting the €1,400 a month drop in income faced by three in five cancer patients. This includes what can often be very long journeys to and from treatment, hotel or B&B overnights and child-minding costs.

“The cost of healthcare for seriously ill patients plays all too big a part in fuelling that fear. Within that cost, a growing concern is the cost of parking. These charges are especially financially hard on cancer patients or patients who are critically ill who must return regularly for hospital treatment,” she added.

Ms Beasley also pointed out that State-run hospitals took €12 million in 2020 in car parking charges, many of which are collected through arrangements with private companies, with over €100 million collected since 2012.

University Hospital Limerick’s car park income for 2021 was €541,254. A spokesperson told the Limerick Post that there was no price increase for public parking on the UHL campus last year.

“Parking management services at UHL are contracted out to the specialist provider Euro Car Parks. Both oncology and dialysis patients are offered free parking in designated areas in UHL. Oncology patients have a designated car parking area in close proximity to the Mid-Western Cancer Centre. Dialysis patients have a designated car parking area in the underground car park.”