Not enough consultation on proposed changes to car parking charges at NI hospital says O’Dowd

Craigavon Hospital
Craigavon Hospital

Concerns have been raised that only two weeks consultation has been allocated to discuss proposed changes to parking charges at Craigavon Hospital.

The Southern Health Trust proposes to decrease the charge for parking up to 70 minutes from £1.20pm to 40p while increasing charges from 70 minutes up to two hours by 20p.

Normally consultation lasts eight weeks but Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said this is insufficient time to respond.

He has called on the Health Minister to help explain why the Southern Health Trust have opted for a two week consultation into proposed car parking charges at Craigavon and Daisy Hill Hospitals.

The Upper Bann MLA said: “I have tabled a question to the Minister in bid to get a rationale and to bring the issue to his attention.

“Car parking charges at our hospitals is a contentious issue and while the proposed changes in terms of cost are minor the issue of charging and increasing cost is something which the public and their representatives should be given proper time to respond to.

“I would hope the Trust reverts to best practice and ensures proper time is given to this consultation and if the Trust does not the Minister should ensure best practice is adhered to,” said the Sinn Fein MLA.

The Southern Trust said: “Hospital car parking charges were first introduced to the Southern Trust in 2009.”

Anita Carroll, Assistant Director for Functional Support Services explains the proposed plans: “Car parking is an ongoing challenge on our busy hospital sites and we are always looking for ways to improve accessibility within the limited space and resources available to us.

“Without this income, funding currently used for patient care would have to be used to maintain our car parks.

“The last change to car parking prices was in April 2015, when we increased the charges to help cover rising maintenance costs.”