If you are a public healthcare patient and require treatment that is not available to you in Ireland, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (the EEA also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland.
The same rules continue to apply to the UK during the withdrawal transition period. The transition period started after the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and will last until 31 December 2020, unless an extension is requested.
Treatment that is available in Ireland may be accessed abroad under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.
To qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme, you must need medical treatment that is
- Not available in Ireland or
- Not available within the time normally necessary to get it in Ireland, taking into account your current health and the likely course of your condition or disease
It must be a treatment that is within Irish law. Unproven, experimental or test treatments are not covered.
The treatment you have abroad must be in public healthcare under a registered medical practitioner in a recognised hospital or other institution that accepts form S2 (also known as E112). Form S2 authorises treatment abroad so that the patient does not have to make any payment to the healthcare provider.
You must provide confirmation of every appointment you are due to attend so that the Health Service Executive (HSE) can issue an S2 form that will cover the cost of your visit. If you do not have the document at your appointment, you may be charged and not be refunded.
Additional treatments or associated examinations or consultations, which may arise while you are abroad but have not been pre-approved, will not be covered.
The Treatment Abroad Scheme may provide assistance with reasonable fares for air or sea travel for you and a travelling companion, where appropriate. For more information, see the Treatment Abroad Scheme policy on travel expenses (pdf).
If you are a private patient, you cannot be referred for the scheme by a private hospital consultant. If you have applied to a private health insurance provider to fund your treatment abroad, you can apply to the Treatment Abroad Scheme if your health insurer refuses your application and you have exhausted its appeals process.
How to apply
You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.
You, and your referring consultant, must complete an application form and include a copy of your referral letter. The HSE has produced a guide for consultants referring patients for funding under the Treatment Abroad Scheme (pdf).
Your application must be approved by the HSE before you travel or start treatment abroad. You will get a decision on your application by letter, usually within 15 to 20 working days. If your application is not approved, you will be told the reasons and given information on how to appeal the decision.
Where to apply
Download an application form for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (pdf) or contact the Treatment Abroad Scheme Office.
For child patients of the following hospitals, the contact number is 056 778 4553: Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street; The National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght.
For other patients, the contact number depends on the county you live in. Find the phone number for your Treatment Abroad Scheme office here.