The HSE operates the EU Cross Border Directive (CBD) in Ireland. Patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA member state, including Northern Ireland, for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the EU/EEA member state they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.
It is important to emphasise that at present there are no changes to patient care in the UK and Northern Ireland under the CBD, as the UK continues to be a full member of the EU. Indeed, until the UK formally withdraws from the European Union, it remains a full Member with all its existing rights and obligations.
Nevertheless, as part of a whole of Government response to Brexit, my Department is working intensively to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations to ensure continuity of health services post-Brexit. This includes the enactment of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019. This legislation contains provisions which, if required, allows me to make Orders and Regulations to enable necessary healthcare arrangements to be maintained between Ireland and the UK in a Brexit no-deal scenario.