Parking fees at University College Hospital Galway are an "unnecessary nuisance" for the families and friends of hospital patients, according to Sinn Féin which is proposing to abolish the fees.
The party will include the abolition of the charges in its manifesto for the next General Election. Parking is currently €2 per hour at UCHG and SF, but according to SF Galway City East councillor Mairéad Farrell, given the waiting times and overcrowding at the A&E unit, "people could easily rack up the maximum daily charge of €9 for one visit to UCHG".
She said: "In some cases these fees bring financial hardship to families who are worried about the health of their loved ones and are required to make multiple trips to hospitals."
A report commissioned by Minister for Health Simon Harris before Christmas recommended that hospitals should be required to introduce flexible charging systems for families and friends of patients who are frequent visitors, including a multi-entry two consecutive day pass and passes for extended periods of time. Cllr Farrell said such changes "are not enough". She added: "The bottom line is that people who are going to a hospital to see friends and family should not have to check what funds they have available beforehand."