State-run hospitals take in €12m a year from car parking charges

Figures show private operators run car parking at 11 HSE-owned hospitals

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says   his department and the HSE are currently examining the issue of car parking fees.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says his department and the HSE are currently examining the issue of car parking fees.

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State-run hospitals are taking in more than €12 million a year from car parking charges, with some €7 million of that total under arrangements with private companies.

Figures released by the Health Service Executive (HSE) show private operators run car parking at 11 HSE-owned hospitals countrywide.

These do not include so-called voluntary hospitals, which are mostly State-funded, such as St Vincent’s, St James’s, Tallaght and Beaumont in Dublin, which also operate privately run car parks.

The HSE said voluntary hospitals did not report financial arrangements with private operators, which were “likely to be subject to commercial agreements”, to the health service.

Sinn Féin Dublin Mid-West TD Mark Ward, who obtained the figures from the HSE, claimed car parks were being used as “money-making schemes” to the detriment of patients and their loved ones.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where hospitals have to charge for car parking in order to generate revenue,” he said.

“There should be enough revenue coming from the State so that hospitals don’t have to look at money-making schemes such as car parking.

“We can see the additional pressure these charges are putting on, for example, cancer patients or people who would be in hospitals on a regular basis, such as patients on dialysis, or getting treatment for multiple sclerosis. That is added financial pressure that they don’t need.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has told the Dáil he is “very aware of the financial burden this issue can cause some patients and families”, and his department and the HSE “are currently examining the issue”.

Revenue

According to the latest available figures for 2019, Galway University Hospital, part of the Saolta group of hospitals, made €1,451,195 from car parking fees, as part of an arrangement with a private operator.

Other hospitals in the group using privately run car parks include Sligo University Hospital (which took in €138,443), Portiuncula University Hospital (€115,037) and Letterkenny University Hospital (€55,506).

Mayo University Hospital runs its own car park, which made €280,424.

University Hospital Waterford, which is part of the South/South West hospital group, was paid €1,204,044 from a private company as part of its car parking arrangements.

In terms of hospital group-run car parks, Cork University Hospital made €2,595,070, University Hospital Kerry took in €715,820 and South Tipperary General generated €325,490.

University Hospital Limerick, which has an arrangement with a private operator, took in €1,132,786 from its car park in 2019.

In the Dublin Midlands group, the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore was paid €510,629 by a private operator, while hospital-run car parks at Portlaoise made €314,832 and, at Naas General Hospital, €122,585.

In the Ireland East group, Dublin’s St Colmcille’s Hospital, which has an arrangement with a private operator, took in €154,214 from its car park , while Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan received €128,119 under its outsourced arrangement.

Group-run car parks at Wexford General made €583,304, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny took in €450,247, while the Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar generated €410,115.

Car parking is free at Croom, Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital, all part of the UL group.

Hospital budgets

Yvonne Goff, the HSE national director of acute strategy and planning, said the charges were introduced over the past decade “to cover such services’ costs without impacting the hospitals’ budget for patient services”.

“The majority of acute hospitals around the country charge for parking at this stage, with nine acute hospitals providing free parking.

“The HSE does not have a single contract to provide parking services at all hospitals, instead, each hospital has its own arrangements, which reflect their particular circumstances.

“Data collected as part of the Hospital Car Parking Review in 2018 showed that 16 hospitals use a third-party provider to manage their car parks although the car parks may still be owned by the hospital.

“Some hospitals may have a third party to service parking meters, entry and exit barriers and security.”