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Healthcare in Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is our closest neighbour, and the only other European nation which shares a land border with part of the UK. Remember that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and if you fall ill on a visit there, you will not need any EHUC documentation to be treated in an NHS hospital. The Republic of Ireland though is a separate nation, and whether you are travelling there on business or pleasure, it is important to know the advantages and drawbacks of the two main types of medical cover.

EHIC Cover in Ireland and Reciprocal Care

Due to Ireland’s historical links with the UK, the same rules often don’t apply to Ireland as they do to the rest of the EU. British citizens don’t need an EHIC card to be treated by Irish state health care, you just need to show passport, driving licence or something else to prove you are resident in the UK.

The Irish equivalent of the NHS is the HSE (Health Service Executive), and their website will help you find the nearest state health service. Double check that any provider being recommended – especially one organised by a hotel or resort – comes under the HSE umbrella. You will not be asked to pay to see a doctor under the agreement between the UK and Irish government. If you are referred to a hospital consultant, check that you are being referred under the state scheme and not as a private patient. Emergency hospital treatment is not charged for. Dental treatment and some eye services are also free to EU citizens, but check for full regulations on the HSE website. If you are asked to pay, always get full receipts. If the doctor prescribes medication, you will be charged 2.50 euros per item dispensed, and will not be able to claim these fees back. Overall, Irish healthcare is of a very high quality, and there are no language barriers.

Travel Insurance and Private Medicine in Ireland

Many Irish citizens and visitors from overseas choose to have their treatment through the private system. If you are covered by travel insurance, going private might mean you are seen more quickly, can choose which consultant you would prefer to see or have access to individual rooms in hospitals rather than being on a shared ward. Lengthy waiting lists for tests and minor operations have become a problem in Ireland in recent years, and having private cover could ensure you are seen right away. Doctors who work in the private sector often also do work for the state provider, so there is no difference in the quality of provision.

Travel insurance will also provide additional benefits which the healthcare arrangements will not. You may be able to claim on travel insurance if your journey home has to be rearranged because of illness, or if you have to be flown back to the UK on a specialist flight. Not all travel insurance policies cover you for the same things, so always check terms and conditions before you travel.