Fianna Fáil Councillor and General Election Candidate James Byrne has called on Minister Harris to address the extortionate cost of parking in a hospital carpark.

Councillor Byrne said it is time for the HSE to regulate car parking fees in hospitals across the country given the huge discrepancies which exist.

In Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda the main car park is two euro per hour and capped at €20 per day. The short-term car park in the grounds of the hospital is four euro per hour capped at €40 per day. In contrast, at Cavan General Hospital the fee is three euro regardless of how long you stay.

Councillor Byrne explained, “The current system, which sees fees determined depending on location, is deeply unfair and the practice of implementing higher charges for spaces nearer the main entrances is simply wrong.

“It is something which is not just a monetary issue but a community one. Not only does it create a substantial financial burden for people visiting the hospital, but people living near these hospitals are often inconvenienced by people parking in estates and roads in the surrounding areas in a bid to avoid these fees.

“We’re at the peak of the flu season with hundreds of people on trolleys. Many people entering A&E are told they may have to wait up to ten hours to be seen. That means a minimum €20 on top of the cost to visit A&E which is €100 for people who don’t have a medical card or a GP referral.

“I accept that the Minister has expressed his unhappiness at these fees. In 2018 he requested the HSE conduct a review with a view to establishing clear national guidelines in the area, but it’s now 2020 and that is still to happen.

“I also accept that some hospitals operate schemes for people who require longer term parking and some offer parking free of charge for those with cancer but this is an issue which needs to be addressed so that the charges can be regulated properly,” he concluded.