herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Private patients paying €12 less to park all day at St James's Hospital

Parking underground at St James’s Hospital costs €2.50 an hour, with a daily charge of €15 after six hours
Parking underground at St James’s Hospital costs €2.50 an hour, with a daily charge of €15 after six hours

Public car parking at the country's biggest hospital can cost up to €15 a day, but private patients have their car parking charges capped at €3, the Herald can reveal.

The two-tier parking charge system on the grounds of St James's Hospital sees patients attending the private clinic, which runs from 9 to 5pm, getting a much cheaper rate.

Parking in the nearby underground car park, which is open to all patients and visitors, costs €2.50 an hour - with a daily levy of €15 kicking in after six hours.

The hospital receives more than €300m a year from the HSE.

People attending the St James's private clinic, which accommodates consultants and diagnostic suites, pay at reception rather than at a machine.

"The car parking charges for the private clinic remain unchanged since it recently moved location on site," said a spokesperson for the hospital.

"These charges are currently under review."

Cancer patients attending the hospital get a discount, but it can still amount to €5 maximum a day.

Crippling

The Irish Cancer Society has called for free or subsidised parking for all cancer patients receiving treatment.

It contacted every hospital that provides cancer treatment in Ireland and found no diff- erence 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," said a spokesperson.

"Last year, hospitals that offer cancer treatment raised almost €18.75m in car parking fees, up over €4m on 2015."

Health Minister Simon Harris said each hospital has its own arrangement in relation to car parking charges "which reflects its specific circumstances".

The HSE has advised that it does not provide guidelines on hospital parking and each hospital or hospital group implements its own guidelines.

Meanwhile, a report from the Department of Health shows that in the four years between 2012 and 2014, the number of private patients treated in public hospitals rose by 16,000.

Since 2014, public hospitals have charged insured patients up to €813 a night, even if they end up in a public bed.

An HSE spokesman said admission staff "are required to speak with patients to establish whether they wish to be treated as a private patient and if necessary ask the patients to sign waiver forms".

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