Anger at hospital carpark charges ‘kick in the teeth’

PEOPLE across Fermanagh have been left outraged following a decision made by the Department of Health (DoH) to restore car parking charges at SWAH.
Jill Weir, pictured below, Health campaigner and Chairwown for the ‘Unison’ Fermanagh and Omagh branch told the Herald that she was “appalled” with such a decision, branding it a “kick in the teeth” for local patients who have stood by the health service throughout Covid and adhered to guidelines.
“This is absolutely unnecessary. Car park charging only came about at SWAH for the initial ‘short term’ to make sure that there was a turnover in numbers going in and out as well as spaces available for parking.
“People have been advised to come on time for appointments, not any earlier or any later due to Covid safety measures so turnover would certainly not be an issue, now so more than ever”.
She continued, “People have enough to be concerned about, we should be trying to get patients to come back for hospital appointments and this isn’t encouraging. There is absolutely no need for it. Not at this stage.
“As our Health Minister stated, we are not out of the woods yet with regards to Covid-19. People have adhered to guidelines and because of such behaviour we have kept cases to a minimum.
“For them to now turn around and award people like this by saying ‘while we start up appointments again we’ll also be charging for parking’ is just outrageous.
“If the Department for Health really wanted to take this action, they could have waited a few weeks to see if all outpatient appointments returned and how it would work”.
When questioned by the Herald, a spokesman from the DoH stated, “Charging for car parking involves difficult choices and decisions but on sites where spaces are limited it helps to ensure that spaces are available for patients and visitors.
“Many of these patients have been shielding during the pandemic and travel by car is the only safe option for them.
“If charging were to stop, just under £8 million of revenue raised to meet the cost of the provision and maintenance of car parking would similarly cease, ultimately reducing the amount the Department would have available to fund patient care.”

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