The HSE is to spend €450,000 commissioning a shuttle bus service from multiple locations to Cork University Hospital, reports the Irish Examiner.
A 12-month contract is up for grabs for bidders to provide buses, drivers and other transport vehicles to take passengers from a bus loop around the city to the hospital, an organization regularly criticized for its high parking fees.
The HSE initially plans to provide three stations – two within five kilometres of the 700-bed hospital and a third within 10 kilometres of the facility.
The buses will run every 10 minutes and will be able to carry 30 to 40 passengers per trip.
Shuttle buses may have multiple stops between the start and endpoints, reports the Irish Examiner.
Additional routes may be added in due course, including other sites operated by Cork University Hospitals Group, such as Mallow General Hospital and Bantry General Hospital.
The HSE says the service will run from 6.30am to 9.30pm Monday to Friday.
Parking on site is limited and rates range from €2.70 per hour to a maximum daily charge of €15.
The hospital notes on its website that it “has the space to offer free parking to patients who have to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time”, reports the Irish Examiner.
In 2019, the hospital earned €2.6 million from car parking charges, the highest of any public hospital in the country, and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has promised an investigation into charging fees from patients and visitors to hospitals in Ireland in 2021.
The government has faced continued criticism from patient advocates over parking charges – a problem for poor patients and families which they say has not been prioritized despite a government pledge to cap the maximum daily charge at €10 in all hospitals.
CUH’s collection in 2021 dropped to EUR 1.25 million but still remains the highest such result in the country.
CUH, along with Dublin’s Mater Misericordia, is one of only two Level 1 trauma centres in the country and recorded 62,974 patients in 2020.
It has one of the busiest emergency departments in the country and is consistently ranked in the top three hospitals in Ireland for having the worst trolley numbers.
There were around 42 people on trolleys at CUH on Friday 8 September, although this number is lower than the 104 people recorded at University Hospital Limerick on the same day, reports the Irish Examiner.
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