The Health Service Executive – HSE answers questions regarding Ireland´s public health insurance and healthcare on the infoline, tel. 1850 24 1850 (when calling in Ireland) from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. The HSE´s website has a service with a map to search for the contact information of local general practitioners, health centres, hospitals, dentists and pharmacies.
See a GP who has a contract with the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) (most doctors have do). Additional information and contact information of GPs can be obtained either from the above mentioned map service or from Local Health Offices. GPs have certain surgery hours, which vary according to the doctor. If you need treatment outside surgery hours, you can obtain the contact information of the on-call doctor in your area, for example, by listening to the information provided on the doctor´s answering service. On-call doctors can also be found on the HSE´s website under ”Out of Hours Services”.
At the appointment, you can check again whether the doctor is contracted to the PCRS system and inform them that you are seeking treatment under EU regulations. Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID. Treatment is then free of charge.
You can see a specialist if you have a general practitioner´s referral. If a GP provides a referral, say that you want to be treated by a specialist as a public patient. In this way, treatment is free.
In Ireland, many specialists see both private and public sector patients. You can see a specialist as a private patient without a GP´s referral, but you must pay for the treatment yourself.
You can also obtain certain aural or optical services available free of charge by presenting your European Health Insurance Card. Additional information about these services can be obtained from the Local Health Office.
Emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain and urgent denture repairs is available from a PCRS dentist contracted to the Local Health Office. You can also obtain other necessary treatment from a Health Office dental clinic. When you go for treatment, present your European Health Insurance Card and your ID. In emergencies, you should ascertain in advance that the dentist you choose provides treatment under EU regulations. Contact the Local Health Office or health centre to get details of contracted dentists or Local Health Office clinics.
If a PCRS contract doctor prescribes prescription medicines for you on special form, you will receive the medication from the pharmacy free of charge. Not all medicines are free, however.
You can access hospital treatment by means of a referral from a GP or specialist contracted to the PCRS scheme. In-patient and outpatient treatment in the public system will then be provided free of charge. Treatment as a private or semi-private patient is subject to charge. You can go directly to the Accident and Emergency unit of any public hospital if you need treatment of this nature. You will receive treatment free of charge, by showing your European Health Insurance Card and ID.
In emergencies, ambulance transport is free.
If you have to pay all costs yourself
If you have to pay the full price for treatment at a local public healthcare unit for which you would have been entitled to reimbursement with a European Health Insurance Card, you can apply for reimbursement retrospectively. You can apply for reimbursement either from the health insurance institution of the destination country or from HSE website (HSE hospital charges) SV 128.
A comprehensive list of public health service providers in Ireland is not currently available.
There are 48 public and 21 private hospitals in Ireland. The waiting lists of public hospitals are usually long. Access to treatment is faster in private hospitals. Private hospitals belong to the Independent Hospitals Association. contact information can be found on the website privatehospitals.ie.
The contact information of places of treatment can also be found on the website of the National Contact Point of Ireland.
Treatment-related practices and costs
In Ireland, the criterion for acceptance for treatment is an appropriate referral. If you are seeking a medical procedure in Ireland, ask for a referral from a specialist in Finland or in Ireland. A referral letter written in Finland must be in English. A GP can provide a referral only for a specialist´s consultation. A referral from a specialist is always required for procedures and treatment in hospital.
When seeking treatment in Ireland take with you all medical records relevant for your treatment, such as case histories, information about medication and results of tests.
Information on public hospital prices is available on the HSE website (HSE hospital charges).
The prices of private hospitals and medical services vary. In order to obtain a preliminary estimate of costs, it is worth asking the treatment provider directly for information on prices.
Quality and safety of treatment
Ireland does not have any uniform quality and patient safety criteria, nor do healthcare providers require a licence to practice. You should carefully familiarise yourself with information about the place of treatment on its website. If necessary, you can request assistance from the Contact Point of Ireland.