Call for longer-term cross border healthcare scheme

The new temporary scheme, which will remain in place for 12 months on an administrative basis.

A local Senator is calling for a longer-term cross border healthcare scheme following the ending of the hugely successful EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive.

Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher says when he cotacted the Department of Health on the matter, officials confirmed that a new temporary scheme titled ‘Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme’ became operational from January 1, 2021.

The temporary scheme, which will remain in place for 12 months on an administrative basis, will enable persons resident in the State to access and be reimbursed for private healthcare in Northern Ireland by the HSE, provided such healthcare is publicly available within Ireland.

The Cavan/Monaghan Senator commented: “I have called on the Minister for Health to review the fact that the new scheme is only set for an initial 12 months. People who require medical treatment need assurances for the longer term.

“I have asked the Minister to give extra emphasis to the Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NIPHS) that will operate on the same parameters as the EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive (CBD) for the next 12 months, but also for the future to seek to provide a replacement scheme that is available in Northern Ireland and UK mainland for Irish residents.”

Sen Gallagher says the replacement scheme will be of “huge benefit” to many people seeking quality healthcare, “not just along the border area, but across the State”.

He adds: “As part of this review, we should also look into the greater utilisation of the additional capacity available in our private hospitals in the State.”

Commenting on the previous EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive, under which began the HSE has paid out more than €40m over the past three years, Senator Gallagher added: “The staff in the Cross Border Directive deserve huge credit for their work and their assistance to patients and I would like to take this opportunity to recognise and acknowledge their work.

“In Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal and right across the State, this directive has been a godsend for a lot of people who have accessed care in a timely and efficient manner.”