HEALTH: Figures show more Irish patients travelling abroad for care

13 June 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth 

Figures released to Cork based MEP Deirdre Clune show a significant rise in the uptake of the Cross Border Healthcare directive in the last 6 months of 2016.

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael)

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has welcomed a significant uptake in the number of Irish patients availing of the Cross Border Health Care directive in the latter half of 2016. In the first 6 months of 2016, just over 500,000 euro was spent by the HSE on paying for patient’s treatment abroad, whereas this grew to almost 2.5 million euros by the end of 2016. The directive allows any public patient in Ireland who is awaiting treatment to avail of that care in another EU member state and get the costs of the treatment reimbursed by the HSE.

According to Clune, many patients on waiting lists still don’t know about this important EU led scheme,

“Under this directive the HSE are required to cover the cost of a patient’s treatment if they can get that same treatment in another EU country – without waiting. So this may work for someone waiting for a hip replacements for example. The initial costs must be borne by the individual and he/she then seeks reimbursement for the cost of the healthcare upon return to Ireland. The patient must seek approval from the HSE before travelling for the procedure and travel costs are not covered.

 “For some, this is a great scheme that allows them to get off the hospital waiting lists and get the treatment they need. I did raise the issue of pre-payment with the HSE previously and I would think it a more attractive scheme if the money were paid to the patients in advance, rather than by reimbursement.

Any service which is provided by the public health services in Ireland can be availed of under the Cross Border Directive (CBD), for example acute/psychiatric hospital services – day, inpatient, outpatient care, dental/orthodontics services (some exceptions i.e. dental screening services in schools), speech & language services, occupational therapy services (some exceptions i.e. assessment for aids at home) psychology services, physiotherapy services and many more.

Clune said the HSE has written to every GP and consultant in the country to inform them of the scheme and has asked media to highlight and inform people of the existence of the Cross Border Health Care directive.

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