The Irish healthcare system is a public healthcare system funded through direct taxation. The Health Service Executive (HSE) operates and funds the provision of public healthcare in Ireland on behalf of the Department of Health. Public healthcare is currently organised in the form of Acute Hospitals, mental healthcare and primary care (including community healthcare).
There is a private healthcare sector in Ireland also. Private healthcare services charge for services at full economic costs and are not public healthcare providers. Dental care in Ireland is provided in the private healthcare sector.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in Ireland. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
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 map service to search for the contact information of local general practitioners, health centres, hospitals, dentists and pharmacies.
In need of a doctor, see a general practitioner (GP) who has a contract with the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) (most doctors do). Additional information and contact information of GPs can be obtained either from the above mentioned map service or from Local Health Offices. 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.
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 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.
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”.
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.
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. You can go directly to the Accident and Emergency unit of any public hospital if you need urgent hospital treatment.
If your illness requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety. You are recommended to take out a travel insurance that covers these costs.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to Ireland for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on our site concerning seeking treatment abroad. The contact information of places of treatment can also be found on the website of the Contact Point in Ireland. Some useful information is also listed below.
There are both public and 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.
Information on public hospital prices is available on the HSE website. 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
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. The national contact point can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.