Delays exceeding 18 months for spinal surgery at Tallaght University Hospital cause outrage

Car parking charges at Tallaght Hospital have been described as “a tax on the sick” by a local representative.

Dublin Mid-West TD, Gino Kenny told Dublin Gazette he recently received a response to a Parliamentary Question about public hospital car parking, which revealed significant amounts of money being raised through these charges.

He said Tallaght Hospital generated income of €1.2m in 2017 in car parking charges, while nine acute hospitals around the country still retain free parking for patients and visitors.

Car parking charges were introduced by hospitals over the past decade, and the figures also show that approximately €22.5m was received in revenue from car parking charges in 2017.

The PQ response shows that 16 hospital car parks are operated by private companies, the majority of which are in the Dublin area.

The figures also reveal that these car parks are the ones, which generally raise the most money in charges.

Four hospitals only provide parking for staff, one of which is free, while the other three charge staff that drive to work.

Deputy Kenny said the issue of charging in hospital car parks is something he feels very strongly about.

“I am increasingly aware of the financial burden placed on day and outpatients, and family members visiting sick relatives in hospital,” he said.

“I find that these charges are excessive and unjust, and effectively amount to a tax on sick people and their families. If nine hospitals can still manage to provide free parking for patients, visitors and staff, it is hard to fathom why other public hospitals cannot.

“While I know that pro-charge advocates will argue that these car parks could be used by commuters looking for free parking, in this technological age, there are a number of ways around this.

“For example, including barcodes on appointment letters, which could be scanned at barriers.

“Similar arrangements could be put in place for visitors.

“One family recently reported that, visiting their dying father in hospital over a period of a month, led to them incurring crippling car parking charges of approximately €1,000.

“This is completely unjustifiable and cruel at a very difficult time.

“I will be following up with further PQs to find out how the money raised is used and what percentage is retained by private companies, who are making a lot of money out of this.”