SDLP Opposition proposes amendment to expedite free hospital car parking

health Colin McGrath Hospital car parking

SDLP Opposition Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has submitted an amendment to legislation that would reduce the Executive’s proposed delay of free hospital car parking from two years to one year.

Mr McGrath said that all Executive parties supported the original legislation and it should be delivered as soon as feasibly possible.

South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:

“Despite every Executive party strongly supporting this legislation when it came before the Assembly just weeks before the last election, they now look set to support Health Minister Robin Swann’s request for a two-year delay by accelerated passage without proper scrutiny. Health service staff and patients were led to believe in 2022 that this provision would have been in place in the near future, only to see it pushed again.

“I have questioned the Minister in the Assembly on the reasons for this delay and sought assurances around a timeline for when free parking could be introduced. I have also asked that regardless of this delay a special exemption be made to provide free parking to health staff as soon as possible. Our health staff should not be incurring additional costs every time they go to their work and I hope that the Minister will take this on board.

“Having heard directly from the Minister that the system to provide free car parking could be in place by Autumn of this year at the earliest, I see no justification for a two-year delay. That’s why the SDLP Opposition has brought forward an amendment to cut the delay to one-year and I believe this would give the Minister, the department and health trusts the chance to get the proper systems in place, without unnecessarily punishing health staff and patients with a longer delay than necessary. I would urge all parties to get behind our proposal and for the Minister to commit to implementing free parking for staff without delay.”

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