Applicants for international protection are offered accommodation by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. If an applicant chooses to accept this offer they will, in normal circumstances, be first brought to the Balseskin Reception Centre, Dublin. Here, they will be offered a health assessment by the on-site HSE team which comprises a nurse, nurse specialist, area medical officer, GPs, social worker and psychologist. This ensures that applicants can be assessed for any special reception needs that they may have before they are designated an accommodation centre.
On occasion, due to capacity issues, it is not always possible to immediately accommodate new arrivals in Balseskin and they are offered emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses secured by RIA. Safetynet, on behalf of the HSE, carries out health screening in a number of these emergency accommodation locations.
RIA works closely with the HSE screening team and with Safetynet to ensure that protection applicants are then dispersed to locations where their medical needs can be met. We also work collaboratively to ensure that any special accommodation arrangements (i.e. ground floor accommodation, wheelchair accessible facilities etc.) are in place as required.
It is important to note that services for protection applicants (including health services) are mainstreamed. Protection applicants are linked with primary care, are entitled to a medical card while residing in RIA accommodation and have a waiver of prescription charges. Applicants access health services through the same referral pathways as Irish citizens including referral to disability services.
Every effort is made to ensure that residents' specific needs are met. Where more intensive care needs are required, such cases are referred to the HSE.