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12th Dec 2016

Irish Cancer Society campaigns for free hospital parking for cancer patients

The charity is calling on the HSE to make parking free for patients receiving treatments.

Cancer patients are paying up to €63 a week in car parking charges according to an Irish Cancer Society report.

The report, called Park The Charges, highlights the financial burden of car parking on patients and their families.

One cancer patient told the Irish Cancer Society that his family had spent €1,200 on car parking charges, while he was in hospital.

Leukaemia survivor Gerry Carroll from Dublin told the society: “I stayed in hospital for 115 days, as I was vulnerable to infection during my treatment. During that time, my wife came to visit me five days a week. It cost her almost €1,200 in parking charges alone in that time. That’s a lot of money. If she was able to get free parking, or even a reduced rate it would’ve been a great help to us.”

The cost of parking varied significantly by region. For example, Dublin hospitals proved the most expensive with an average a four-hour stay in a Dublin hospital costing €8.86.

Hospitals in Munster had the second highest costs for a four-hour stay at €6.70, while costs were lower in Connaught/Ulster at €4.67 and in Leinster (excl. Dublin) at €5.20, respectively.

According to figures provided by the Society, at the 26 public hospitals that offer cancer treatment, the revenue raised by car parking in 2015 totalled almost €16 million, with two hospitals taking in in excess of €1 million, and another two hospitals taking in €1.5million and €2.9million respectively.

 “Car parking charges represent a huge cost for many cancer patients, at a time of not just physical and psychological stress, but financial pressure. People undergoing treatment are facing real hardship in having to deal with additional costs and large drops in income, and high car parking charges only add to this. We have proposed a set of guidelines for hospitals to the HSE, that, if put in place, would make a big difference to cancer patients. Some hospitals already give cancer patients car parking passes so we know it’s possible. We want it rolled out across all hospitals treating cancer patients.” Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said.

“While we acknowledge that car parking is a key source of revenue for many hospitals, the excessive rates charged at some facilities place an unnecessary strain on cancer patients and their families,” Mr. Buggy added.

The Irish Cancer Society currently runs a Volunteer Driver Service that provides transport for cancer patients to and from their hospital chemotherapy treatments, which currently operates at 21 different hospitals nationwide.  In 2016 alone, the service has provided 21,350 drives to 1,163 chemotherapy patients, covering over 1,000,000 kilometres.

The society is now urging people to sign a petition which asks that the HSE give free car parking to cancer patients and their families.