NAAS General Hospital has defended its parking charges as a campaign hots up to provide free parking to cancer patients.
The hospital raised €137,000 in parking revenue last year and the hospital say their hourly charge is one of the lowest in the country.
The Irish Cancer Society has started a petition calling on hospitals to change its parking policy for cancer patients offering free or subsidised parking.
In 2016 Naas Hospital raised €137,000 in parking charges, an increase of €10,000 on the previous year.
The Irish Cancer Society has already gathered 3,000 signatures supporting the campaign and they have contacted every hospital that provides cancer treatment in Ireland and found no difference between the 2016 and 2017 rates. They have also written to all councillors on Kildare Co Council and asked them to put down motions at council meetings next week calling on their local hospital to introduce free parking for cancer patients.
A spokesperson Naas, however, said their charges are one of the lowest in the country.
“Car parking at Naas Hospital is charged at €1.20 per hour up to a maximum of €6 per day; this charge per hour is one of the lowest in the country. Local arrangements are also made for exceptional cases,” said a spokesman for the hospital.
In a survey, carried out by the charity, they found that a four-hour stay in hospitals in Leinster (excluding Dublin), cost €5.20. Naas General Hospital came in just behind at €4.80 for the same period of time.
“Patients are telling us that they can’t cope with the cost of parking but the hospitals aren’t listening,” said Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society.
“We are overwhelmed by the huge public reaction to our campaign to “park the charges” for cancer patients. This demonstrates the breadth of support for free parking for people being treated for cancer, something that affects thousands of people every day. We want politicians and the HSE to acknowledge the financial impact of hospital parking on families and we need to see real action to address it.”
Individual hospitals have the authority to abolish charges for cancer patients and a number of hospitals around the country including Mayo General, Portiuncula and Wexford General have arrangements in place that mean cancer patients go free.
“Discretion is required and we are asking hospitals to adopt practices currently in place at hospitals such as St. Luke’s, Rathgar, where anyone undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy is allowed free parking,” he added.
“There is no national policy on car parking aside from agreement from hospitals on maximum daily fixed parking charge. This makes no difference to patients forking out €15, €20 or even €40 for a day long stay. The HSE now need to step up and put in place policy that supports cancer patients and their families at a time when they’re faced with a multitude of other charges.”