The Irish Cancer Society has slammed St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny - citing "crippling" car parking charges for patients attending cancer services as the hospital earned €500,000 last year from parking.
St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny's parking income is up €40,000 on 2016.
The Irish Cancer Society has also written to all Kilkenny Councillors and asked them to put down motions at Council meetings calling on their local hospital to introduce free parking for cancer patients.
“This will need cross-Party support and we’re asking politicians from all parties to get behind the initiative. We’re also asking the public to get involved by supporting a petition to “Park the Charges” and to raise this issue with their local representatives,” said Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society.
“Patients are telling us that they can’t cope with the cost of parking but the hospitals aren’t listening. 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,” said Mr Buggy.
Mr. Buggy 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.
At St. Luke’s, Kilkenny, the cost of a four hour stay is €4, below the average of €5.20 for Leinster (excluding Dublin).
Despite a petition of over 3,000 signatures followed a national campaign in December, no hospital in Ireland has changed its parking pricing policy for cancer patients. The Irish Cancer Society is calling for free or subsidised parking for all cancer patients receiving treatment. At the end of February, the Irish Cancer Society contacted every hospital that provides cancer treatment in Ireland and found no difference between the 2016 and 2017 rates.
Instead, during 2016, while cancer patients were struggling to pay crippling parking costs, the revenue raised from parking at all but four cancer hospitals increased. Last year, hospitals that offer cancer treatment raised almost €18.75 million in car parking fees, up over €4million on 2015.