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Ireland – Health Service

Ireland’s healthcare system is a mixed public-private system, with the public sector providing most of the services. The country has a strong focus on primary care, with General Practitioners (GPs) acting as the first point of contact for patients. In this article, we will explore the standard of healthcare in Ireland, how healthcare is paid for, the services provided by hospitals, follow-up care, and the rules regarding medical treatment for foreign visitors.

Standard of Healthcare in Ireland

Ireland’s healthcare system is generally considered to be of a good standard. The country has a high life expectancy of 83 years, which is above the European average. The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks Ireland’s healthcare system as the 22nd best in the world, out of 191 countries.

One of the key strengths of Ireland’s healthcare system is its primary care system. GPs play a central role in the provision of healthcare in the country, acting as the first point of contact for patients. This means that patients can access healthcare quickly and easily when they need it, and GPs are able to provide preventative care and health promotion advice.

Healthcare Payment System in Ireland

Ireland has a mixed healthcare payment system, with both public and private funding sources. Public healthcare is funded through general taxation and social insurance contributions, which are paid by both employees and employers. Medical card holders, who meet certain criteria based on income and health status, are entitled to free healthcare services.

Private healthcare is funded through private health insurance, out-of-pocket payments, or a combination of both. Private health insurance is not compulsory in Ireland, but it is recommended as it can provide access to faster treatment and additional services.

Hospital Services in Ireland

Hospitals in Ireland provide a range of services, including emergency care, surgery, and specialist treatments. There are both public and private hospitals in the country, with the public hospitals providing the majority of services.


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Public hospitals in Ireland are managed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), which is responsible for providing and managing all public health services in the country. The HSE operates a system of hospital groups, which are responsible for the delivery of services across a number of hospitals in a particular area.

Private hospitals in Ireland offer a range of services, including elective surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services. Private hospitals are not part of the public healthcare system and are not funded by the government.

Follow-Up Care in Ireland

Follow-up care is an important part of the healthcare system in Ireland. Patients are generally seen by their GP for follow-up appointments and care after leaving hospital. GPs are responsible for coordinating the care of their patients, and they work closely with hospital staff to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care.

Patients may also be referred to community services for follow-up care, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy. These services are generally provided by the HSE and are available to all patients who need them.

Medical Treatment for Foreign Visitors in Ireland

Foreign visitors to Ireland are entitled to emergency medical treatment under the country’s public healthcare system. However, non-emergency treatment is generally only available to those who have private health insurance.

EU citizens are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Ireland if they hold a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Visitors from countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Ireland may also be entitled to free healthcare.

Visitors from countries without a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Ireland will need to pay for any healthcare they receive. It is recommended that visitors take out private health insurance before travelling to Ireland to ensure that they are covered for any medical treatment they may need.

In conclusion, Ireland’s healthcare system is generally considered to be of a good standard. The country has a strong primary care system, which is the first


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