Victorian cancer patients are paying an average of $1,100 per year on parking at treatment centres, a Cancer Council review has found.
Insufficient space, high parking costs and limited parking time were among the biggest complaints from patients and staff surveyed across 53 Victorian treatment centres.
Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said nurses had reported having to move cars for patients and patients cutting consultations short for fear of being fined.
“If we think about someone going through cancer treatment it is a stressful time, so how we can make the system better is really important,” Mr Harper told 774 ABC Melbourne’s Red Symons.
“We have probably the best cancer treatment systems in the world, so what we don’t want to be doing is putting barriers in the way of patients accessing this world-class treatment.”
Inconsistent fees and availability of parking information for patients prior to their treatment were also identified as barriers.
Mr Harper said one of the solutions the Cancer Council supported was to restructure contracts with private operators for car parks at hospitals.
Facebook users flooded the 774 ABC Melbourne Facebook page with stories about the stress and costs of parking while visiting Victorian hospitals.
“Yes my dad is in hospital and has been for weeks. There is almost no parking around St Vincent’s so I have to use their car park. $9 for the first hour. $14 for two hours. It’s extortionate. I must have spent $150 in the last few weeks,” Ruth de Barra wrote.
“During radiation treatment at Austin Hospital/ONJ, I was given vouchers for $1 parking. Brilliant gesture, but good luck finding a parking space. All other visits involve crossing your fingers and hoping you’re lucky enough to find a vacant spot. Hospital is stressful enough. It’s cheaper to catch a taxi,” Caroline Zerafa said.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Trip wrote: “I’ve probably spent at least $5,000 in parking fees over 11 years for my son to see his specialists at RCH.”
The Victorian Government has ordered a review of hospital parking in response to the Cancer Council investigation.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said hospitals must show more responsibility towards vulnerable patients.
“It is really important that those patients that are having to go to hospital on a regular basis that are already doing it so tough get some relief,” she said.
“[The hospitals] need to make sure that they’re publishing and publicising the availability of concessions.”