Hospital car parking charges are “the bane of my life”, the mother of a cancer patient has said.
In the Programme for Government, the coalition pledged to, “Introduce a cap on the maximum daily charge for car parking for patients and visitors at all public hospitals, where possible.”
At the new National Children’s Hospital - which is due to open in 2024 - parking charges will be capped at €10 per day.
The price of parking is often mentioned as an unpleasant surprise by those who need hospital care and Carly, mother of cancer patient Aoife, says that her family has spent a small fortune on parking their car over the years.
“Car parking is the bane of my life, unfortunately,” she told Lunchtime Live.
“Generally, if you’re in on a chemo day, they’re long days.
“So, you’re going to have your €10 charge.
“At one stage, Aoife had to be admitted to Temple Street for surgery and we were in for 12 days and it’s the only time I ever counted up the car parking for any amount of time.
“Bear in mind, I was in the hospital with her and my husband would go to work in the morning and come in in the afternoon and then maybe the evening.
“We spent almost €600 in those 12 days.”
Aoife has been “in and out” of hospital her whole life; she has undergone three chemotherapy protocols and received an inhibitor drug for three and a half years.
Aoife has been “in and out” of hospital her whole life and has undergone three chemotherapy protocols and she has received an inhibitor drug for three and a half years.
The family were never offered any kind of parking discount and Carly says it just added to the stress of the appointment.
“I remember saying, ‘I should be stressing about the appointment and the chemo or whatever we have that day’,” she added.
“But sometimes you’re just stressing about trying to get parking.”
Aoife’s illness meant the family were already under financial pressure and Carly thinks there should be more consideration of this.
“If they could waive the fees for anyone with a long-term illness or do something, it’s very difficult,” she said.
“I had to give up my job, my husband had to continue working because we’ve other kids as well.
“Everything doesn’t just stop and you’re taking a drop in wages and then you’re paying for driving in and out of hospitals and then parking as well.
“So, it is a big lump sum.”
Now aged 12, Aoife’s tumours are growing again and she will soon have to restart treatment again.
“She’s doing well, she takes it all in her stride,” Carly said.
“She kind of knows no different because she has spent most of her life on treatment, rather than off it.
“But she’s amazing, very strong.”
In a statement to Newstalk, the Department of Health said:
"Hospitals that charge parking fees are very cognisant of the financial implications of parking costs for patients and their families, particularly for those with long-term illnesses.
"The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future, makes a commitment to introduce a maximum daily car parking charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals, where possible, and to introduce flexible passes in all public hospitals for patients and their families.
"This is a reflection of the Government’s appreciation of the financial challenge that can be faced by people in meeting these expenses, in particular where they are frequent users of hospital services. Consideration is being given to how best to ensure this commitment is addressed building on the HSE’s Review and taking account of existing arrangements already in place."
Main image: Aoife (12) with her sisters Cara (3) & Caoilainn (10)