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Patient outrage at €1.75m parking fee for Dublin hospital

A HOSPITAL in west Dublin raked in a staggering €1.75m in parking fees from patients and visitors in less than three years.

Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown in west Dublin earned nearly three quarters of a million euro from the levies in one year alone.

And a patients group told the Herald families sometimes have to pay thousands of euro in parking fees.

The hospital pointed out the funds raised are used to support the operation and day-to-day running costs of the facility.

Connolly, which introduced the system in November 2009, raked in €101,900.49 for the final two months of that year.

The total amount came to €726,039 the following year and €738,544 in 2011, according to the details provided under the Freedom of Information Act.

Between January and March this year, a total of €189,169.83 was earned.

It means visitors are paying an average of €60,500 a month for parking in the grounds of Connolly.

The figures do not include the amount paid in enforcement fees.

"Connolly Hospital does not collect money from clamping charges as a private company collects clamping fees," it said.

Parking charges have long been an issue of complaint for visitors, many of whom are already attending under traumatic circumstances.

Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients' Association said he welcomed the recommendation of an all-party Oireachtas committee that there should be no clamping in hospitals.

"It should not be up to the patient's family to ask the hospital in order to get a concession," Mr McMahon said.

He added: "We have come across some situations where some families may have paid out thousands over a few weeks if they were doing 24/7 vigils. And then they find out they can get special rates but there is no question of refunds."