Low uptake among Irish patients of EU treatment option

HSE is contacting patients’ groups to raise awareness of hospital treatment abroad

Only 300 Irish people have availed of the EU Cross-Border Directive that offers treatment in hospitals abroad. Photograph: Getty Images

Only 300 Irish people have availed of the EU Cross-Border Directive that offers treatment in hospitals abroad. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Only 300 Irish people have availed of the EU Cross-Border Directive that offers treatment in hospitals abroad.

General manager of Acute Hospital Services with the HSE, Catherine Donohue, told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the scheme has been in place since 2014. She said that the HSE is now contacting patients’ groups to make more people aware.

Under the directive anyone who is entitled to public health care in Ireland is also entitled to treatment within the EU.

Ms Donohue explained that patients will be reimbursed for the cost of their treatment by the HSE afterwards. There is an option to get “prior authorisation” which allows them to borrow so they can access treatment abroad.

“Treatment in Eastern Europe is considerably cheaper. Yes the patient has to meet the cost of travel, but with so many cheap flights now available, it is more accessible,” she said.

“Traditionally Irish people do not go abroad for treatment, but in Europe it is more commonplace.”

Irish patients are now being told about the directive when they query waiting times she said, and the HSE has been sending information to all hospitals, consultants and patients’ groups.