THE money gained by hospitals for car parking should be used to improve patient and visitor experience, it has been claimed.
€3 million was paid to Cork University Hospital in car parking charges during 2017.
Meanwhile, more than €300,000 was paid to South Infirmary Victoria University hospital in 2017 while Mallow and Bantry General hospitals do not charge for parking and the Mercy University Hospital is an inner-city hospital with public or street parking.
“This income is invested back into services at the hospitals including covering the cost of security, CCTV and the general upkeep of the carparks,” said a spokesperson for South/South West Hospital group.
However, Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer has called for the money to be invested in patients and visitors.
“Parking in CUH has been a major issue for some time now, for patients, visitors and staff,” he said.
“While it has to be controlled and regulated to prevent people abusing it and parking there just to get the bus into the city, I feel the charge should be at a minimal level.
“It shouldn’t cost €3 million to maintain the car park and I’d like to see some of this money going toward patient and visitor experience,” he added.
“The introduction of day room and TV room facilities and even a family room, to name a few, would be most welcome, and I think, a better investment of this money.
“The hospital do issue discretionary passes for people who are undergoing ongoing treatment such as cancer patients and they do give passes to some families who have loved ones in the hospital on a long term basis.
“However, these are often very hard to get and something has to be done to ensure that these people, in particular, aren’t paying large sums of money on a regular basis.” The Minister for Health, Simon Harris ordered a national review of hospital car parking charges in recent weeks with the aim of establishing clear national guidelines on this area for the first time.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
“It is my intention that we will then have clear national guidelines on this area for the very first time.”