Hospital parking charges consultation launched

  • 7th December 2023

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has launched an eight-week consultation on the option of re-introducing hospital car parking charges.

The consultation follows a direction from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, requiring Northern Ireland departments to launch public consultations on revenue-raising measures.

This is in the context of severe financial pressures on health and social services and across the public sector.

Income from car parking charges is currently used to cover provision and maintenance costs.

However, this will change from May 2024 when parking charges will be removed following legislation passed by the previous NI Assembly.

Providing and maintaining car parking services will then cost the health service in the region of £10m a year.

Costs incurred as a result of hospital parking charges being ended will inevitably mean less money for health and social care services.

The department is now seeking views from the public and all interested parties on the re-introduction of charges as ‘a fair and appropriate measure to generate additional income for the health service’.

The existing policy already includes free and concessionary parking for patients on a particular care path.

And, if charges were to be re-introduced, these measures would be re-established and others could also be considered, for example offering free parking for patients with a diagnosis of a terminal illness and relatives of inpatients who are terminally ill and/or receiving end-of-life care.

There may also be exceptions for patients with mental health disabilities and those accessing addiction services as parking charges may act as a barrier to access treatment.

In addition, the consultation suggests providing 30 minutes of parking free across all chargeable sites which will help staff and public set down and collect people and items, and providing free staff parking to permitted pass holders.

The consultation will close on 9 January.

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