IRISH hospitals are continuing to rake in millions of euro each year in parking revenue, a Herald investigation can reveal.
Sick patients and struggling families forked out more than €13m in parking fees last year.
And some of our hospitals are using car parks as cash cows, claims a patients group, with some families forced to fork out thousands for parking.
The Irish Patients' Association has today labelled the fees a "tax on illness" and called on hospitals to show more sensitivity when dealing with traumatised families.
And the organisation has described the refusal by three of Dublin's largest hospitals to disclose their revenue figures as showing "a veil of secrecy".
As a record number of patients lie on trolleys in emergency departments, many hospitals continue to generate high revenue streams from hard-pressed families.
Beaumont Hospital recorded gross parking revenue of €820,690 last year, followed by Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, which brought in €726,000, and The Mater Hospital, which recorded ¤286,735.
Tallaght Hospital, St James Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital refused to release the figures to the Herald.
St James's and St Vincent's claimed it was "not their policy" to divulge parking revenue figures, while Tallaght Hospital, whose parking facility is run by a private company, refused to answer the Herald's requests.
Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients' Association said the decision not to provide the information showed the hospitals "had something to hide".
"It is difficult to understand the cloak of secrecy by some hospitals (who also receive public funding) surrounding the amount of revenue raised and how these funds are used from their car parking lots."
Cork University Hospital raked in €2.6m last year, followed by Waterford Regional at almost €1.4m.
Many hospitals claimed to be willing to make concessions to patients or family members who cannot afford the charges.
Kerry General Hospital said it offers families of long-term patients special rates.