By Joe Barrett
Independent TD for the Laois/Offaly constituency Carol Nolan said she is engaging with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath as part of her efforts to have public hospital car parking charges for cancer patients abolished.
Deputy Nolan met with the Laois-Offaly representative of the Irish Cancer Society to discuss the organisation’s pre-Budget submission.
Deputy Nolan said that the society is advocating for the provision of €5 million to public hospitals to reduce the cost of car parking charges for cancer patients. It is also calling for a reduction in the Drugs Payment Scheme cap to a maximum payment of €100 a month, and a maximum payment of €72 a month for single-headed households.
She said: “What is very clear to me following my meeting with the Irish Cancer Society is that the stress and challenges created by car parking fees has to be tackled once and for all.
“It is simply unacceptable to have cancer patients and indeed their families worrying in this way. Some of them are running to the hospital car park to avoid extra charges at a time when they are already under enormous pressure. How can this be tolerated?
“As I understand it the typical cancer patient will spend approximately €700 on car parking charges. This could be multiples of what they pay in Local Property Tax for example.”
Deputy Nolan said: “I am aware that Simon Harris, when he was Minister for Health in May of 2018, announced that he had ordered a national review of hospital car parking charges.
“At that time, he accepted that national guidelines were urgently needed and that cancer patients could not be left to rely on the goodwill of individual hospitals. Since then, however, nothing has happened and the issue has been allowed to drift.”
“Removing public hospital car parking charges would be an immediate and practical measure that could help these families at a time when they need their burden lightened, not increased,” said Deputy Nolan.