RCSI Hospitals Group petitioned to scrap parking charges

Group including Beaumont, Cavan and Connolly seen as among least ‘progressive’

Roderick Campbell (centre) from Uplift photographed outside the RCSI HQ before delivering a petition to the RCSI Hospitals over parking fees. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Roderick Campbell (centre) from Uplift photographed outside the RCSI HQ before delivering a petition to the RCSI Hospitals over parking fees. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

The RCSI Hospitals Group has been petitioned to scrap car parking charges for cancer patients who attend regular appointments.

Uplift, the social campaign group, arrived at the group headquarters in Dublin on Thursday in an attempt to deliver a summary of the petition it said attracted the support of 7,400 people.

Spokesman Roderick Campbell led a small protest group which was denied access to the building.

He said the targeting of RCSI Hospitals in particular was because it had been among the least “progressive” on the issue of parking charges for oncology patients.

The group includes Beaumont, Cavan General, Connolly, Louth, Monaghan, and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.

Uplift was using the campaign as a focal point for a wider debate on scrapping parking fees for chronic patients generally.

“Our hospitals are experiencing significant underfunding...and although that is understandable the way to recoup them is not to scrape them off the back of patients,” Mr Campbell said.

Uplift believes the RCSI-run hospitals had reduced its parking rates since its campaign began.

The timing and details of any such rate reductions are unclear and the group did not respond to requests for comment.

Reduced rates

However, in a letter to Uplift the group said all its sites operated either reduced rates for cancer patients or “options” for daily and hourly rates “for all service users”.

Connolly offers free parking for the duration of treatment, Our Lady of Lourdes a reduced rate of €4 per day, €3 for all users in Cavan and Monaghan and €9 per day in Beaumont, it said.

“Car park income is used to support the operation and day to day running costs of the hospitals and at present, there are no plans to change the car parking approach in any of the sites.”

The issue of costs for cancer patients is not new. In 2015, the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) published research that identified an estimated €862 in additional expenses faced by patients every month, from various costs such as electricity bills and medication.

“One of the things that popped up was car parking charges. Those who [USED THEM]were on average paying €62 a month,” said Paul Gordon, ICS policy and public affairs manager.

The ICS believes charges should be reduced or scrapped for oncology patients. It has proposed the introduction of guidelines for hospital operators that would include concessions and, importantly, the public promotion of those concessions.

It also argues for greater transparency around car parking revenue.

Chris Conway, whose sister has been receiving regular chemotherapy at Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said its parking charges would prevent her from driving herself for appointments that could last hours.

“There are people with cancer who can drive and take treatment and it’s a big cost,” he said.

“I think the charges are too much; €1 would be more fair.”