The Minister for Health has ordered a national review of hospital car parking charges.
Minister Simon Harris has asked the HSE to carry out a review of the charges, with the aim of establishing clear national guidelines in this area.
"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.
"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," Minister Harris explained.
He has asked the HSE to engage with the Irish Cancer Society and other patient advocacy groups to ensure that this review takes into account the various circumstances of patients, especially those who require regular hospital trips.
"This review will examine existing arrangements within hospitals, the financial impact of parking charges on patients and families, the data in relation to the income generated from these charges, and any other factors. It is my intention that we will then have clear national guidelines on this area for the very first time," Minister Harris added.
The news was welcomed by the Irish Cancer Society, which has been calling for national guidelines in this area for some time. It said that it ‘consistently' hears from cancer patients about the financial implications of the disease, including the cost of parking at hospitals.
"We welcome the opportunity to engage with the Minister and the HSE to find solutions which take into account the needs of patients who are required to regularly visit our hospitals for cancer treatment. We will work to ensure early adoption of new patient-focussed car parking charges," the society added.