Health Tips in Ireland

 

 

Healthcare

According to the Health (Amendment) Act 1991, Non-EU residents in Ireland desirous of access to public healthcare are required to produce the following: 

- A residence or work permit or an Alien's Registration Book

- Proof of property purchase or rental (including evidence that this is your principal residence)

- Confirmation of registration with a school or college or details of an Irish bank account.

There are two categories of access to public health care in the country:

EEA citizens resident in Ireland, insured in another EEA country automatically receive a Medical Card, as well as pensioners and those seeking work in Ireland. Otherwise, eligibility for Medical Cards is based on one's income. Category 1 eligibility applies to low income groups.

By virtue of a Medical Card you will have access to free GP services; prescribed drugs and medicines; maternity and infant care, in-patient and out-patient services in a public hospital; dental, optical and aural services and appliances. Others who are entitled to public health care fall into Category 2 and are required to pay for visits to doctors, medicines and prescriptions, routine optical, dental, or aural treatment. Public hospital out-patient services and maternity care are free. However, charges for in-patient accommodation and visits to Accident & Emergency departments are applicable.

 

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Hospitals

Ireland has a number of small walk-in medicenters where there is no need for prior appointments. You could opt for this if you need to see a doctor urgently. Most Irish people prefer to see their family doctor even if it takes a few days.

Ireland has a number of public and private hospitals that offer excellent treatment and state of the art facilities. Most towns have at least one general hospital and others are covered by regional hospitals. There are "day care" hospitals that provide low cost services in areas like physiotherapy. There are also a number of specialty hospitals for women, children, geriatrics, remedial, psychiatric and orthopedic treatment located mainly in and around Dublin which accept patients only on a doctor's referral. There are a number of clinics that specialize in family planning, sexually transmitted diseases. Routine treatments which are free of cost are administered by health boards listed in the Golden Pages. No referrals required.

For all treatments except emergencies you may be admitted to a public hospital after consultation with a GP or specialist. Patients covered by private health insurance scheme can choose to be treated at a private facility. 3 high-end private hospitals i.e. the Blackrock Clinic, Mater Private Hospital and the Beacon Hospital are only covered by the most expensive private health insurance schemes.

Doctors

The best way to find a doctor is by asking friends and colleagues for a recommendation. In Ireland it is a common practice to meet your doctor before deciding whether you would want him to treat you. Majority of the GPs practicing in the country are in single practice, others work in group practice and very few work in a health centre with facilities like vaccinations, maternity care, physiotherapy, cervical smears and breast screening available. 

The advantage of seeing a doctor in a group practice is that in his absence you will be treated by others in the group. Independent practitioners will have a replacement doctor treat their patients in their absence. You may consult a specialist and your GP will be happy to direct you to one. You can change doctors but be careful of the reason that you give for this change to a new doctor. 

Typically surgery hours are from 8.30am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays. Emergency surgeries may be held on Saturday mornings, e.g. from 8.30 to 11.30am or noon. Most doctors operate on an appointment system, in which case making an appointment in advance is necessary.

There are a number of good dentists who practice in public and private facilities. Again a recommendation by friends and colleagues and some amount of shopping around would be necessary.

Complaints against GPs should be addressed to the Medical Council, Lynn House, Portobello Court, Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6 (Tel. 01-496 5588) and those against dentists may be directed to the Dental Council(Tel. 01-676 2069).

Pharmacies

Pharmacies in Ireland are listed in the Golden Pages and sell prescription drugs and medicines, non-prescription drugs, cosmetics and toiletries. Pharmacists in the country are well trained and offer consultancy with regard to minor ailments. Some pharmacies have a private area in which you may discuss your ailments with the pharmacist. This way you won't have to incur the cost of visiting a doctor. However, in case of major health concerns, this is no substitute for consultation with a doctor.

There are no 24 hour pharmacies in Ireland and in case of an emergency you will have to go to the accident and emergency department of the nearest hospital. Pharmacies usually work from 9 am-6 pm Monday to Saturday. They may remain open for longer hours on Thursdays and Fridays. Some pharmacies are open for longer hours on the weekend while others are open all day on Sundays.

There are a number of schemes that offset the cost of medication for those afflicted by long term illnesses. Patients suffering from diabetes, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease and epilepsy can obtain a long-term illness book which entitles them to free medication. Refunds can be claimed under the "drug refund scheme" while the "drugs cost subsidization scheme" aids those patients who do not possess a Medical card and are suffering from long-term illnesses.

Emergency Numbers

General Emergency Number: 112 (can also be used to ask for an ambulance)

Ambulance: 999

Various health boards are responsible for provision of ambulance services and there is some charge for this.

In Case of an Emergency

Not all hospitals have an Accident & Emergency (A&E) department. This is precisely why you should find out which hospital located near you has one. If you are physically able to head there yourself otherwise call an ambulance. If your doctor's surgery is closed here, there are "after-hours clinics" in most cities and towns where you can see a doctor for minor ailments.

Health Risks

There are no major health risks in the country.