It’s another stress when a loved one is ill – having money in your pocket or bank account to cope with hospital car park charges. That’s on top of everything else – loss of income, fuel/travel costs each day to visit, long journeys, extra childminding costs perhaps, food when you’re travelling, new nightwear and toiletries for hospital – it can be a long list.

If you’re the person who is sick, you have the physical and emotional stresses of being ill as well. Throw car park charges in on top of all that and it could be the straw that breaks the patient’s spirit.

There have been Government promises since 2020 to cap daily car park charges at hospitals at €10 – but this still hasn’t happened. Back in 2018, the Health Service Executive (HSE), undertook a national review of car parking charges at the request of the then Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Organisations such as Age Action Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society have long been calling for a reduction in car parking charges and standardised charges across the country but judging by the HSE response to our query, a decision on all this is a long way off yet.

What has changed?

So what changes have taken place in the eight years since Irish Country Living did the last survey in 2016?

Cork University Hospital’s (CUH), daily rate has gone from €10 to €15 and Louth County now has a daily charge of €20, for example, which wasn’t there before.

Prices stayed the same at Tallaght, St Vincent’s and Cappagh Hospital in Dublin as well as Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick hospitals.

Kerry and Naas prices have gone down slightly as have CHI at Crumlin and Our Lady of Lourdes. This hospital was the dearest for car parking charges in 2016. It has gone down from €20 per day in the long-term car park to €10 per day now.

St Luke’s, Kilkenny was the cheapest, and still is the most reasonable, charging €4 per day.

It is now easier to find out what car parking charges are at hospitals. In 2016, hospital website information wasn’t easy to access; but the information is now more readily available on websites.

Monitoring prices

The Irish Cancer Society is currently monitoring prices also and their very useful map of hospital car park prices can be found at (see car parking charges on opposite page). You can also visit to find the closest parking facility to your destination. It will tell you how much it will cost and whether there are spaces available.

Steve Dempsey, Director of Advocacy and Communications, Irish Cancer Society, says: “The Irish Cancer Society has been campaigning to see car parking charges for cancer patients abolished across public hospitals for 10 years.

“In 2016, we published a ‘Park the Charges’ report. Promises were made by the Government to deliver, and that didn’t happen.

“In 2020, there was a Government commitment to cap the charges and that hasn’t been delivered on yet. Then in 2022, we published ‘The Hidden Costs of Hospital Car Parking for Families’ report.

Steve Dempsey, Director of Advocacy and Communications, Irish Cancer Society.

“In Ireland, one in two people will experience a cancer diagnosis at some point in their life. There is not a family in this country that hasn’t been touched by the disease. We hear time and time again from patients about the stress and toll a diagnosis can have – dealing with that dreadful news, that upheaval in your life, most likely having to put work on pause, and dealing with financial pressures, and on top of that, when they go to hospital for life-saving treatment, they are hit with car-parking charges.”

Dempsey says that right now, it’s a “postcode lottery”.

“A recent tally from the Irish Cancer Society shows that about 40% of the cancer treatment hospitals in Ireland charge cancer patients’ full cost for parking their car to attend their life-saving treatment. For patients attending every day, five days per week over a four-week period – at €15 per day, that quickly spirals into €300 in the space of a month.

“We are doing everything we can to help and have grown our Free Transport Service by 30% this year. But the Government needs to step up and take action – we’re urging policy makers to introduce a national policy on hospital car parking.”

HSE repsonse

Irish Country Living asked the HSE for a comment in relation to car parking charges for cancer patients to be abolished across public hospitals. However, the promised working group hasn’t even been established yet.

A spokesperson said: “This work is underway. The terms of reference for this working group have been developed which outlines membership to include stakeholders from patient advocacy groups,

the National Cancer Control Programme, and the public acute hospitals network, among others. Further engagement with the Department of Health will also be required.

“The working group, when established, will be tasked to make recommendations to inform guidance documents and local policies for public acute hospitals including:

• A patient-centred approach to qualifying criteria for long-term patients

• Qualifying illness and conditions eligible for recommendation of support of capped parking charges such as flat rates, and technology to support where available

• Guidance on how to access the concessions where available locally.

However, we are conscious that a ‘one size fits all’ policy is not implementable across the public acute hospital network.”

Paying the price

On the upside, most hospitals have a maximum daily or weekly charge in place, which will, at least, cap the amount you pay – but is it still too high a price to pay?

If we look at most outpatient appointments in hospitals, they can take between one and four hours. This means the average costs of parking for four hours across the provinces breaks down as follows:

• Dublin is the most expensive at €8.86

• Munster comes in second at €6.70

• Leinster (rest of) at €5.20

• Connacht/Ulster at €4.67.

There is also the issue that car parking charges bring in substantial revenue to hospitals, which is used to fund the upgrade and upkeep of the car parks, security staff, security cameras and their management systems. This is probably why the Irish Parking Association pointed out back in 2016 that there is no such thing as free parking.

“If hospitals were to provide free parking, the money would have to come out of the overall hospital budgets,” said a spokesperson.

“Parking for staff has to be provided too. The money that comes in from visitors and patients goes into the pot to pay for all the parking costs – staff and visitors. VAT of 23% is also charged – an extra cost for hospitals. In most hospitals, regular visitors get discounted parking. There are also maintenance costs.”

Examples of income from car parks

Children in Hospital Ireland (CHI) – Recent Patient Parents Survey.

• €35 per day was spent by parents on travel and parking, with a further €36 per day on food

• Parents of children having treatment for cancer stated that they were spending on average €201 per month on parking charges

Both the Irish Cancer Society and CHI are asking that:

• Frequent users should be entitled to free or very cheap car parking

• Parking concessions should be promoted and easy to apply for

• The HSE should publish a publicly available central database of charges and concessions at all hospitals.

The Irish Cancer Society’s Park the Charges Campaign report found that only 25% of hospitals that provide cancer treatment had formal arrangements that offered free or reduced parking in place. Also, only seven of the 26 offered weekly rates.

Read more

New loan scheme to help reach retrofitting targets

Meet the Maker: Caoimhe M Flanagan