Public consultation launched on re-introducing hospital parking charges
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Parking charges are currently due to end next May following the passing of a Bill by the Stormont Assembly before it collapsed last year.
The Hospital Parking Charges Bill proposed scrapping charges for patients, staff and visitors at public hospital sites in the region.
However, the health service in Northern Ireland is facing a funding crisis and the cost of providing and maintaining the car parks is around £10m a year.
A department statement said: "Income from car parking charges is currently used to cover provision and maintenance costs.
"However, this will change from May 2024 when parking charges will be removed following legislation passed by the previous NI Assembly.
"Providing and maintaining car parking services will then cost the health service in the region of £10 million annually.
"Costs incurred as a result of hospital parking charges being ended will inevitably mean less money for health and social care services."
The department is seeking views from the public and all interested parties on the re-introduction of hospital parking charges as a "fair and appropriate measure to generate additional income for the health service".
The department said: "Demand on health and social care services is outstripping capacity and the provision of free car parking from May 2024 will further reduce the department's ability to fund services.
"In addition, due to increased budget pressures, car parking revenue currently used to fund free off-site staff parking, and park and ride schemes, may have to be restricted, potentially reducing the overall amount of parking spaces available."
The consultation period will run for eight weeks, closing on January 9.
Stormont civil servants were ordered earlier this year by Mr Heaton-Harris to launch public consultations on revenue-raising measures for the region.
Northern Ireland is currently without devolved powersharing institutions due to the DUP's protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements, and Mr Heaton-Harris introduced a budget in their absence.
Senior civil servants are currently running public services in the region.
They have said Stormont departments need hundreds of millions of pounds in extra funding to maintain public services at their current level this year, while hundreds of millions more are needed to settle a series of public sector pay disputes in the region.
Mr Heaton-Harris has argued that additional revenue-raising measures are required to sustain public finances.
Last week, Neil Gibson, the permanent secretary at the Department of Finance said Northern Ireland is on a trajectory to overspend by half a billion pounds in the current financial year.