Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cancer patients face crippling parking fees in Luke's - but not Wexford

By David Tucker

people from County Wexford being treated for cancer at St Luke's, Hospital, in Kilkenny are among those being financially crippled by car parking charges.

The Irish Cancer Society last year called for free or subsidised parking for all cancer patients receiving treatment. At the end of February, it 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 €4 million on 2015. St Luke's Hospital raised just under €500,000 in charges in 2016, up €40,000 on 2016.

Late last year, Wexford General Hospital was congratulated by the Society for its free car parking scheme for cancer patients.

The Hospital, unlike most around the country, allows cancer patients going through treatment to park free of charge and is highlighted in the Irish Cancer Society's 'Park the Charges' report as being a leader in good-practice for its car parking policy for cancer patients.

In other hospitals, cancer patients can be asked to pay up to €63 a week in car parking charges.

The charity says that the HSE needs to issue guidelines to hospitals so that all people undergoing cancer treatment receive free car parking. One cancer patient told the Irish Cancer Society that his family had spent €1,200 on car parking charges while he was in hospital.

At St Luke's, Kilkenny, the cost of a four hour stay is €4, below the average of €5.20 for Leinster (excluding Dublin).

Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said 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,' he said.

Wexford People

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