Irish hospital parking fees much dearer than in UK
Many UK hospitals offer free or daily capped rates for patients
North Staffordshire hospital: many hospitals in the UK don’t charge patients who have to travel by car parking fees. Photograph: Getty Images
Car park charges are much cheaper in many hospitals across Northern Ireland and England than in Ireland. The charge for four hours in the Royal Victoria Hospital car park is £2.50 (€3), which is closer to the cost of parking your car for one hour in most hospital car parks in Dublin.
NHS hospital car parking fees were abolished in Scotland and Wales in 2008, yet it wasn’t until August 2018, that parking at all Welsh NHS hospitals became free – a decade after the Welsh government first announced the policy. A small number of hospitals in Scotland still charge for parking due to outstanding contracts with private companies that manage their parking facilities.
In its election manifesto in winter 2019, the UK Conservative Party promised to ensure all 206 hospital trusts in England offer concessions to those in greatest need.
Many hospitals across the UK already offer free or reduced charges or daily capped rates for those patients who have no alternative but to travel by car. The NHS guidelines recommend that fees are reasonable for the area yet manage to deter commuters who do not have legitimate reasons to park in hospital car parks.
Free hospital parking is offered to specific groups across the UK. In the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, parents visiting sick children or families visiting seriously ill patients don’t pay for parking.
The Patients Association in the UK has said that hospital car parking should be free, calling the fees “a charge on people who are unwell”. NHS providers defend parking charges saying fees are used to maintain parking facilities.
Someone staying with their partner while they are in labour does not pay for hospital car parking either – something many who have had to continuously feed on-street parking meters around the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin will note with interest.