Call for free hospital parking for people with long term conditions

Leitrim Observer reporter

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 Call for free hospital parking for people with long term conditions

Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has called on the Health Minister to waive hospital parking charges for patients with cancer and other long term or life-limiting conditions.  

Deputy Mac Sharry raised the issue in the Dáil this week.

“A number of health representative organisations including the Irish Cancer Society have been calling on Minister Simon Harris to provide funding to the HSE to allow for free parking for cancer patients.  I fully support this measure, but would also like to see it go further, and be extended to all patients who are living with long term or life limiting conditions”, explained Deputy Mac Sharry.

“People with serious health issues already have a range of costs associated with their healthcare.  Doctors’ visits, medication, transport costs and possibly the cost of specialised equipment all adds up.  Patients may have to make numerous hospital appointments in any given week and the fact that they have to fork out for parking charges is particularly cruel.

“While some hospitals provide free parking for some patients, the majority do not.  This in itself creates an unfairness that needs to be addressed.  The HSE has been asked to review the current inconsistencies and to come up with uniform guidelines for hospitals.  A timeline needs to be provided for this.

“All of these people, or, in the case of children, their families, have paid tax over the years and have made their contribution to the HSE budget – which amounts to €14.5 billion this year.  Minister Harris has consistently pointed to the fact that the budget increased by €608m this year.  The estimated cost to cover parking charges for these patients is €13m – that’s less than 2% of the increase this year.

“In the grand scheme of things, €13m is not a huge amount of money; however it would make a huge difference for those who would benefit from it.  It would be one less cost to worry about.

“There is an opportunity for the Health Minister to make a little money go a long way and ease the burden on people who are living with serious conditions.  I am urging him to conduct this review as a matter of urgency and to do the right thing and end parking fees for these patients”.