The total car parking income for 33 hospitals run by the Health Service Executive was slightly less than the €12.8m the same hospitals earned in 2017.
Hospital car parking fees came under scrutiny following a campaign by the Irish Cancer Society which estimated that cancer patients were paying up to €63 a week to park their cars while going for essential treatment.
Some hospitals are still charging up to €15 a day for car parking, despite a commitment by the Health Minister Simon Harris to cap charges at €10 per day and to introduce multi-day passes for frequent patients and visitors.
The minister ordered a review of car parking fees in 2018.
The hospital car parking review recommended that charges should be capped at €10 per day and also urged them to introduce a more flexible charging system.
It said hospitals should consider extending passes for long periods of time and where necessary, tickets should be validated by the hospital to ensure this option is only available to patients, carers and visitors.
Dublin topped the league for hospital parking fees, with the Mater Misericordiae charging €15 for a full day’s parking; St Vincent’s University Hospital charging €14 per day and the Coombe Women and Infants maternity hospital capping its fees at €12.50 per day.
Only four hospitals offer flexible day pass/multi-trip entry pass for regular hospital attendees, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. And of the 34 hospitals that have fee-paying car parks, 32 offer some form of allowances and 27 offer concessions based on the type of inpatient.
The latest figures for the HSE-run hospitals show that income soared in some hospitals while in others, their car parking income dropped dramatically.
The Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar increased its car parking revenue from €225,119 to €374,292 last year, while car parking fees in Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan increased from €103,652 to €123,183.
The Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore bumped up its car parking income from €375,762 to €418,986.
Cork University Hospital’s car parking revenues dropped by almost €600,000 to €2,574,979 last year.
At Wexford General Hospital, parking revenues fell by €144,496 to €585,138.
The HSE said as the demand for car parking increases, so does the cost to the hospital of supplying those services.
The majority of acute hospitals around the country charge for parking however nine acute hospitals provide parking services for free.
Free parking is available at hospitals in Roscommon, five out of six hospitals in Limerick (the main University Hospital Limerick charges €10 a day); Mallow General Hospital and Bantry General Hospital in Co Cork and St Luke’s oncology network in Dublin.
In the UK, the British government has promised to end hospital car parking fees for certain people, including the parents of sick children staying overnight. Others who will benefit from free parking include frequent outpatient attendees, and staff working night shifts will no longer have to pay for parking under the plans being outlined on Friday.
Here in Ireland, the HSE-run hospitals that earned most from car parking last year included:
- Cork University Hospital, at €2,574,979
- Galway University Hospital with fees of €1,389,725
- University Hospital Waterford, at €1,152,498
- University Hospital Limerick, at €1,106,169.
Figures for income from car parking fees for the voluntary run hospitals in 2018 were not available.