Ger O’Callaghan made the commitment at the HSE regional health forum in Cork after a number of councillors raised the issue. Charging cancer patients to park while undergoing treatment was of particular concern.
However, not all hospitals adopt the same approach. In South Tipperary General, where income from parking charges was €386,370 in 2016, free car-parking is provided for cancer patients.
Oncology patients attending St Lukes General Hospital Kilkenny are not charged. University Hospital Kerry, where parking income was €636,523 last year, provides free parking to cancer patients or a designated family member during treatment.
University Hospital Waterford, which offers concessions for cancer/elderly and vulnerable patients, earned €1.5m in charges in 2016.
However cancer patients at Cork University Hospital, where parking income was €3.1m last year, cannot park for free. There is a concession charge of €5 per day for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients.
Mr O’Callaghan said charging for parking is “pragmatism really, as much as anything else”. He said his experience while CEO of South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital was “people going shopping leaving their car in the carpark”.
He said there is “always an option there for a refund [of a parking fee] in certain circumstances and cancer is one of those”. He said he would “be surprised” if management turned down a refund request from anyone with cancer. “We will review what is going on across the hospitals,” he said.