"I said to the guard, 'I'm sorry about that, my daughter has a brain tumour'"

Last year, parents paid almost €500k in car parking fees at Crumlin Children's Hospital

Figures released by the Health Service Executive (HSE) have shown that parents of sick children attending Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin contributed more than €460,000 in car park fees last year.

The cost of parking is just one of a number of ‘hidden’ fees which parents must contend with when caring for a sick child in hospitals across the country.

Co-Founder of the charity Cliona’s Foundation, Brendan Ring said he wasn't shocked by the figures, based on his own experience.

"We were in that situation with our own daughter Cliona," he told Newstalk Breakfast. "We spent eight years going to a number of hospitals [...] It's unbelievably stressful. It tests you to your very end."

His family, based in Limerick, regularly traveled from Limerick to Dublin so that their daughter Cliona could undergo chemotherapy treatment. 

Mr Ring listed additional costs such as accommodation, fuel and child-minding  as other 'hidden' charges affecting parents.

"These guys do not understand that we are the parents with children who are either terminally ill or have a life-limiting illness. We just can't take the pressure."

Often, Mr Ring said families were forced to choose between putting food on the table and bringing their children to hospital.

Clamping

On one particular night when they received news that Cliona had an inoperable brain tumour, Mr Ring double parked on a footpath on the hospital grounds. The following day, he found his car clamped.

He attempted to explain the situation he was in, but said that it didn't make any difference.

"I still had to pay I think €60 or €80," he said.

On one occasion, however, Mr Ring said he was afforded a break. 

"I was caught for speeding on the way up to Dublin - Cliona had to have emergency blood platelets replaced. "I said to the guard, 'I'm sorry about that, my daughter has a brain tumour'.

"He was wonderful. He said, 'you have enough problems on your plate, drive on'."