Abolishing car parking charges for sick patients attending treatment at Galway University Hospital is both “achievable and necessary”, and Health Minister Simon Harris must start phasing them out.
This is the view of Sinn Féin Galway City East councillor Mairéad Farrell. She was speaking following a Parliamentary Question reply to Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Dep Louise O’Reilly, which showed that €1,449,902 was collected in 2018 from car parking charges from sick patients and others at Galway University Hospital.
“When a patient is sick the last thing they or their loved ones need is a hefty car parking bill,” she said. “It is extremely unfair and adds to stress and strain at a very difficult time. Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell and levied on them solely because they are sick.”
The Irish Cancer Society has pointed out that cancer patients are paying up to €63 a week in parking charges as they attend hospital to receive their treatment. Cllr Farrell described this as “a serious burden”, and she is calling on Minister Harris to work with hospitals to phase out car parking charges. She pointed out that such an initiative has already been undertaken by the NHS in Wales and to an extent in Scotland.
“There is a blueprint for how this can work,” she said. “We should be making sure the patient experience is as smooth as possible at Galway University Hospital and not charging people for being ill.”