The Irish healthcare system is divided into public and private services. Both services are provided by GPs and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for providing public and community health services. There are three types of hospitals: HSE hospitals, voluntary hospitals and private hospitals. For a more comprehensive guide to the Irish Health Service go to www.hse.ie.
A General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor who provides health services to people in his/her surgery or in the patient’s home. If you do not have a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card you will have to pay for the service.
There are no set fees in Ireland for GP services. If you wish to check costs, contact your local surgery directly. At present, charges are approximately €60 per visit.
If you are “ordinarily resident”, you can access a range of public health services that are free of charge or subsidised by the Irish government. Generally, if you are living here and intend to continue to stay here for at least a year, you will be considered “ordinarily resident”.
There are two types of patient in the public healthcare system:
Anybody in Ireland with a medical emergency is entitled to attend the Emergency Department. A patient visiting the Emergency Department will either be treated and sent home or will be admitted to a ward as an in-patient.
Note: Different hospitals treat different sicknesses and emergencies, for example, maternity hospitals only treat maternity related emergencies while general hospitals will treat most emergencies.
Out-patient services generally include Emergency Department services as well as planned services, for example, specialist assessment by a consultant or diagnostic assessments such as x-rays, laboratory tests and physiotherapy.
In general, you may refer yourself to the Emergency Department of a public or voluntary hospital. You do not incur hospital charges if you are referred by a GP. You do not have to pay for consultants’ services but you do not have a choice of consultants. If you are a private patient you can choose the consultant.
If you are in a public ward under the care of a consultant for treatment and you remain overnight, you are receiving in-patient services. If you do not remain overnight you are receiving day services.
This will depend on your personal circumstances and also whether you are accessing ‘out-patient’ or ‘in-patient’ services.
If you go to the out-patients or Emergency Department of a public hospital without being referred there by your GP, you may be charged €100. This charge does not apply to the following groups:
In cases of excessive hardship, a HSE Area may provide the service free of charge.
If you have to return for further visits in relation to the same illness or accident, you do not have to pay the charge again.
The charge for in-patient/day services is €75 per day up to a maximum of €750 in a year. The charge does not apply to the following groups:
In cases of excessive hardship, a HSE Area may provide the service free of charge.
Under the National Treatment Purchase Fund, public patients who are waiting longest for an operation or procedure on a public hospital in-patient or day case waiting list can have their operation in a private hospital: www.ntpf.ie
Ashford House, Tara Street, Dublin 2
Lo-Call: 1890 720 820
A medical card is issued by a Health Service Executive (HSE) Area in Ireland. Medical card holders are entitled to receive certain health services free of charge.
For more information regarding the above, please contact your local Health Centre.
You may also be entitled to the following additional benefits (from the relevant government department)
Anyone over the age of 16 years who is ordinarily resident in the State is entitled to apply for a Medical Card.
You can qualify for a Medical Card under the following three main categories:
A medical card normally covers you (the cardholder), your spouse and any children under 16 or children who are full-time students aged 16-25 and financially dependent on you.
Where a couple has separate incomes, their application for a medical card is assessed on the basis of their combined income.
You must contact your nearest Health Centre for an application form or www.medicalcard.ie. If you are under 70 years of age ask for Form MC1 and if you are over 70 years of age ask for Form MC1a.
Medical card assessments based on a means test make allowances for rent or mortgage payments, childcare expenses and travel to work expenses. Income is assessed after tax and PRSI are deducted.
No. The medical card is not recognised outside Ireland.
The medical card section will send you are a review form six weeks before your medical card expires. You should complete the form and send it back to them. They will then decide if you still fulfill the requirements for a medical card.
If you are not eligible for a medical card then you will be charged a fee for doctor and hospital services. However, if you do not qualify for a medical card you may be entitled to a reduced rate of medical card under the following schemes:
This card entitles holders to free GP services; however, they will have to pay for hospital services and a limited amount for prescription drugs. To apply for a GP Visit Card, you use the same application form for a medical card. While your GP Visit Card application is being processed, the HSE will also assess your entitlement for a full medical card.
The Drug Payment Scheme allows individuals and families who do not hold medical cards to limit the amount they have to spend on prescribed drugs. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, you will not pay more than €100 in any calendar month for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and appliances.
If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland, you are eligible to apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme. You can use the Drug Payment Scheme in conjunction with a Long Term Illness Book. Application forms are available from your local pharmacy or contact your local health centre for more information.
The Long-Term Illness Scheme allows people with certain conditions, who are not already medical cardholders, to obtain the medicines and medical and surgical appliances they require for the treatment of their condition, without charge. You do not have to satisfy a means test. The conditions included in the scheme are:
If approved, you will be issued with a long-term illness book. Your pharmacist will provide you with the necessary drugs free of charge.
The Health Service Executive provides free maternity services for the period of pregnancy and for 6 weeks after the birth. The service is provided by your GP. You must be ordinarily resident in Ireland to avail of this service.
The Disability Act 2005 allows for an assessment of the needs of a person with disabilities. For more information on health services for people with disabilities go to ‘Health Information’ on www.dohc.ie
The Migrant Disability Network Ireland (MDNI) aims to provide expert and compassionate support to children from migrant/minority backgrounds who are living with physical/intellectual disabilities. Website: www.migrantdisabilitynetwork.com
You can avail of private health care if you can pay for it directly or you are covered by a private health insurance policy. Some employers offer health insurance as part of an employment package.
It is usual practice that no immediate private health insurance coverage is available for medical conditions existing before taking out a private health insurance policy. The restriction shall be removed upon the following periods of continuous membership: 5 years for members under 55; 7 years for members aged 55-59; 10 years for members aged 60 and over.
You can contact one of the three private health insurers in Ireland.
Many people experience mental health problems over the course of their life. You can access mental health services through your GP or through the community and hospital based services offered by the HSE.
There are also voluntary organisations which support people with mental health illnesses:
Aware provides information and support for people suffering from depression and their family and friends: www.aware.ie
LoCall: 1890 303 302
Console supports and helps people bereaved through suicide: www.console.ie
Freephone: 1800 201 890
Samaritans is a confidential emotional support service for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair: www.samaritans.org
CallSave: 1850 60 90 90
Headstrong is an initiative working with communities to ensure that young people aged 12 to 25 are better supported to achieve mental health and wellbeing: www.headstrong.ie
Telephone: 01 6607343
The HSE developed a website as part of the ‘Your Mental Health’ campaign to raise awareness about mental health issues: www.yourmentalhealth.ie
The National Office for Suicide Prevention co-ordinates suicide prevention efforts throughout the country: www.nosp.ie
Population Health Directorate
HSE, Dr Steeven’s Hospital, Dublin 8
Telephone: 01 6352139 / 6352179
Mental Health Ireland is a national voluntary organisation which aims to promote positive mental health and to actively support persons with a mental illness, their families and carers by identifying their needs and advocating their rights: www.mentalhealthireland.ie
6 Adelaide Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Telephone: 01 2841166
Drinking alcohol plays a role in adult life in Ireland. However, alcohol is often abused. The following organisations provide information and support on alcohol and drugs:
Drugs Helpline – Freephone – 1800 459 459 (Monday – Friday): www.drugs.ie
The HSE set up a website to provide information on alcohol and its effects on health: www.yourdrinking.ie
Alcohol Action Ireland is the national charity for alcohol-related issues: www.alcoholireland.ie
Butler Court, 25 Great Grand Street, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 8780610
Reproductive healthcare includes crisis pregnancy options, family planning, contraception, pregnancy counseling and related health matters, for example, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, miscarriage, still birth and sudden infant death, circumcision and rape. Your GP can provide you with information on reproductive health. However, some people do not feel comfortable about discussing these issues with their GP.
Irish Family Planning Association is a charitable organisation which provides sexual and reproductive health information, clinical services, counseling service education, training and awareness raising: www.ifpa.ie
Solomons House, 42A Pearse Street, Dublin 2
Telephone: 01 6074456
The Dublin Well Woman Centres were founded to provide access to family planning advice and services. There are three medical centres in Dublin: www.wellwomancentre.ie
Head Office, 25 Capel Street, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 8749243
67 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Telephone: 01 6609860 / 6681108 / 6683714
35 Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 8728051 / 8728095
Northside Shopping Centre, Coolock, Dublin 5
Telephone: 01 8484511
For more information on reproductive health see www.treoir.ie and go to ‘Publications’ and ‘Reproductive health for migrant women’.
Dublin AIDS Alliance (DAA) Ltd is a voluntary organisation working to improve conditions for people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS: www.dublinaidsalliance.ie
53 Parnell Square West
Telephone: 01 8733799
DAA's Don't Panic Guides give an overview of sexual health and sexual health services in Dublin in a variety of languages.
CervicalCheck is a programme providing free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60 who are eligible for screening. Cervical screening is the most effective method of reducing a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer. A smear test is used for cervical screening and is a simple procedure to detect pre-cancerous cells. For more infomation in different languages go to: www.cervicalcheck.ie
Freephone: 1800 45 45 55
BreastCheck is a programme providing screening for breast cancer and invites women aged 50 to 64 for a free mammogram on an area-by-area basis every two years: www.breastcheck.ie
Freephone: 1800 45 45 55
There is no bowel cancer screening programme in Ireland at present.
If you think that you are at risk of bowel cancer you should contact your GP or the Irish Cancer Society’s Information Service: 1800 200 700 (Monday–Thursday 9am–7pm; Friday 9am–5pm).
There is no prostate cancer screening programme in Ireland. The Irish Cancer Society created the Action Prostate Cancer initiative to increase information and support about this cancer: www.cancer.ie/prostate
Prostate Cancer Information Service 1800 380 380 (Monday – Thursday 9am – 7pm; Friday 9am – 5pm).
For more information on migrant health issues contact:
Cairde is a community development organisation working to tackle health inequalities among ethnic minority communities by improving ethnic minority access to health services and ethnic minority participation in health planning and delivery.
19 Belvedere Place, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 8552111
This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Dept of Justice & Equality & Pobal.