Dodds questions Minister on hospital car parking

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Upper Bann DUP MLA Diane Dodds has pressed the Health Minister in the Assembly on whether free car parking at all hospital and healthcare sites can be achieved in less than the two years he is suggesting.

"We want to know this: is there a way that the Minister can truncate his desire to withhold the measure for two years and give us the opportunity to implement the Act earlier?" she said.

"I hope that, by the time that a year has passed, the Finance Minister will be able to have a multi-year Budget, and, therefore, the Minister will have some clarity on the Budget. I hope that the Minister can clarify those issues for us and that we will be able to implement the measure much sooner.

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"Will he clarify whether he will look again at the range of options that are already there? When I met the Northern Ireland Children's Health Coalition, its representatives were absolutely clear that what is available is not adequate to address the needs of families with children who have long-term conditions, such as cancer, and who may be in hospital for weeks on end. They need better supports. Parking is a significant issue for them, and I want the Minister to come back and tell us clearly. In the interests of being reasonable and practical, I would like the Minister to answer the questions and tell us whether he can shorten that timeframe.

Upper Bann DLA Diane Dodds.Upper Bann DLA Diane Dodds.
Upper Bann DLA Diane Dodds.

"I know that the procurement process for operators for the car parks and so on has gone ahead, but I also ask the Minister to tell us whether there is a capital expenditure in buying further land at some hospitals for car parks.".