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Dáil Éireann Government Health Louth Politics

Aontú Bill For Free Hospital Parking On its Way to 3rd Stage in the Dáil

Speaking after the passage of the Aontú’s Hospital Parking Bill through Second Stage in the Dáil today, Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has called on all parties in the Dáil to ensure speedy passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas to ease the pressure on thousands of Patients who are paying thousands of euro in parking charges whilst battling for their health and lives.

An Teachta Tóibín: “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 for ever. What many people don’t realise is the financial toll it can take on individuals and families, which, for some, can be as stressful as a diagnosis itself. The Irish Cancer Society estimate that it can cost €862 per month, rising to €1,200 in some cases for a person with Cancer. This 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”.

“Sadly, the cost of Health Care pfor seriously ill patients plays an all too big a part in fuelling that fear. Within that cost, a growing concern is the cost of parking. Paying car parking charges when you are attending outpatients services or emergency services at your local hospital is an additional stress and pressure for many people. These charges are especially financially hard on patients such as cancer patients or patients who are critically ill who have to return regularly for hospital treatment. Paying Hospital parking charges on the same day as getting a such a diagnosis can be emotionally very difficult”.

“State-run Hospitals took €12m in 2020 in car parking charges, many of which are collected through arrangements with private companies, with over €100 million collected since 2012. It would have been higher were it not for the suspension of non-Covid healthcare services for the majority of 2020. Only nine acute Hospitals across the country provide free parking. These car parking charges are in many ways a tax on Cancer Patients and other patients with serious long term illnesses.

“Hospitals are making millions from their car parks, with others pulling in hundreds of thousands. The response to my PQ explained that ‘Hospitals introduced car parking charges over the past decade to cover such services’ costs without impacting the hospitals’ budget for patient services.’ Services in this case being car parks and related services. The Irish Cancer Society has campaigned for a cut in hospital car parking charges. Their “Real Costs of Cancer” report in 2016 stated that 80% of patients were paying at least €60 a month. Incredibly parking charges can be as high as €4 an hour in some hospitals. These car parking charges are in many ways a tax on Cancer Patients and other patients with serious long term illnesses.

This Aontú Bill provides for an entitlement to free parking for up to three hours in the carpark of a public hospital, where an occupant of the vehicle (either the driver or a passenger) is attending the hospital to receive out-patient services. We did not provide for unlimited car parking in case it was abused. We provided for the suspension of free car parking in circumstances where a determination has been made that those entitlements are causing that carpark to become occupied to an excessive extent.

“This issue has been debated for ever and a day. It has appeared many times in election manifestos. Now is the time to action it once and for all”.  

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