Free parking at NI hospitals scrapped after just 4 days as charges reintroduced

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The arrival of free parking at hospitals across the north will be short-lived as parking charges are set to be re-introduced tomorrow, Friday May 17 – four days later.

Free hospital parking provision had been passed by the Assembly back in 2022, and car parking charges ended on Monday of this week.

However, in a major u-turn it was subsequently agreed by the Executive last month that the planned introduction of free parking should be deferred for two years to allow “for the necessary infrastructure to be implemented at hospital sites”.

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This has meant that the free parking arrangement was only operational for a total of four days.

Altnagelvin Hospital.Altnagelvin Hospital.
Altnagelvin Hospital.

The Department of Health in a statement issued on Thursday said: “Normal arrangements for hospital car parking charges will resume from Friday.

The Department is aware that patients and visitors at some hospital sites have experienced congestion and delays, as a result of free parking this week. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during this period.

“New legislation will be in place from tomorrow which reinstates hospital car parking charges until 2026. This will allow the Department of Health and Trusts the necessary time to implement a traffic management system to control parking, preserve blue light routes and protect designated routes to facilitate free car parking across NI’s hospital sites.”

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The Department said that it was originally anticipated that the traffic management system would be in place by now, but that “unforeseen delays in the procurement process and subsequent legal challenges meant this was unfortunately not possible”.

Car parking permits for eligible healthcare staff will be provided free of charge throughout the two-year deferral period.

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