Complaints as Craigavon hospital rakes in rip-off car park charges

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Craigavon Area Hospital, which serves the Dungannon District, has reaped almost half a million in car park charges in the past year.

The figures, which were released by the Department of Health, come at the same time as concerns over the difficulties faced by visitors finding a parking space at the hospital.

UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson raised the issue at the Northern Ireland Assembly last week, demanding to know what action the Department of Health hat taken to address the situation at the acute hospital, which had caused stress to patients and relatives.

The figures show that the Southern Trust raised £473,975 last year from the 1,633 car parking spaces available to patients and staff at the site.

The total was the highest for any hospital outside of Belfast, with Altnagelvin the next highest at £253,672. South West Acute Hospital had the lowest car park earnings at £59,200.

Responding to the concerns raised by the UUP representative, a department spokesperson said: “The Trust continues to seek innovative ways to free up parking spaces on the hospital site, creating a new car park beside Ambulance Control which provided 60 additional spaces in 2013 and developing a cycle to work scheme.

“In addition, there is a regular bus route to the hospital and the trust is engaging with Translink to promote the uptake of the local bus service which passes the hospital.

“The Southern Trust has a Traffic Management and Car Parking Service User Forum which looks at concerns raised by service users, visitors and staff and there is close liaison with the Estates Department to identify solutions to address issues where possible. There are no plans to expand car parking capacity on the site.”

Craigavon Hospital charges for the use of four of its car parks, with rates comparable to that of busy town centre parking facilities, it claims.

Visitors and patients must pay £1.20 for up to one hour, and a further sixty pence per hour thereafter.

Disabled car park spaces are available in various locations on the hospital site, close to the main entrance. There is also a ‘drop off zone’ where a car or taxi can stop. Patients with specific conditions are entitled to free parking.