Hospitals refuse to offer cancer patients free or subsidised parking

Hospitals refuse to offer cancer patients free or subsidised parking

A national campaign by the Irish Cancer Society failed to persuade hospitals to offer cancer patients free or subsidised parking, writes Evelyn Ring.

Despite a petition of more than 3,000 signatures and a campaign in December, no hospital in Ireland has changed its parking pricing policy for cancer patients.

The society wants free or subsidised parking for all cancer patients receiving treatment.

At the end of last month, it contacted every hospital providing cancer treatment and found no difference between the 2016 and 2017 rates.

Cork University Hospital is the only designated cancer centre to offer concessions on parking for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

At CUH, chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients pay €5 a day for parking. This compares with a €13.50 daily charge across the city at South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital.

Hospitals that offer cancer treatment raised almost €18.75m in car parking fees last year, up over €4m on 2015.

At CUH, which raised €3.1m in parking charges in 2016, there was an increase of over €200,000, while the South Infirmary saw a rise of €50,000.

The society’s head of services and advocacy, Donal Buggy, said: “Patients are telling us that they can’t cope with the cost of parking, but most hospitals aren’t listening.”

He said the society has been overwhelmed by the huge public reaction to its “park the charges” campaign for cancer patients.

“This demonstrates the breadth of support for free parking for people being treated for cancer, something that affects thousands of people every day. We want politicians and the HSE to acknowledge the financial impact of hospital parking on families, and we need to see real action to address it,” said Mr Buggy.

Individual hospitals have the authority to abolish charges for cancer patients. Some hospitals, including Mayo University Hospital; Portiuncula, Co Galway; Wexford General; and St Luke’s, Dublin, allow cancer patients free parking.

“Discretion is required and we are asking hospitals to offer free parking to anyone undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We also warmly welcome efforts made by the likes of Cork University Hospital who offer reduced rates,” said Mr Buggy.

The Irish Cancer Society has written to all Cork city and county councillors asking them to put down motions at council meetings next week calling on their local hospital to introduce free parking for cancer patients. “This will need cross-party support, and we’re asking politicians from all parties to get behind the initiative,” said Mr Buggy.

The HSE said: “There are no HSE guidelines on hospital parking and each hospital group implements their own guidelines.”

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