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Over half of HSE reimbursement costs come from services accessed in the North – O’Reilly

27 August, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Figures released to Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD show that in 2015 and up to the 30th June 2016 over half of the total reimbursement costs made by the HSE under the cross-border healthcare directive were for treatments and services accessed in the North. 

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“In the 18 months to 30th June 2016, the HSE reimbursed €659,245.09 for treatments and services in the North under the cross-border healthcare directive. This represented 277 people. 

“Sinn Féin believes healthcare must be developed on an all-Ireland basis. We should move from increased cooperation to ultimately full integration of services on the island, maximising the healthcare benefits for all and achieving greater economies of scale. The fact that the majority of reimbursements under the scheme are for treatments being accessed across the border shows a demand for the integration of services and systems. 

“Indeed, in the past decade there have been developments in health cooperation between the Assembly and Leinster House, with a number of exciting joint departmental projects being developed. However, the result of the Brexit referendum is deeply worrying for the future of this cooperation and access to services and treatments. While we do not accept that the Government should be reliant on the outsourcing of services and surgeries to other jurisdictions, the reality is that cross-border cooperation and integration of health services on this island should be developed. We would see economies of scale and services would have critical mass to be introduced, developed and enhanced. 

“For example, the new children's hospital will have a state of the art cancer centre, which will service children across the whole island. However, this needs a critical mass of population to be effective and expert briefings have pointed out that this is envisaged as operating on an all island basis. 

“Brexit poses an enormous threat and further inconvenience to those patients accessing services where long waiting lists exist; orthopaedics and orthodontics being the most common. If the cross-border directive is no longer applicable to the North post-Brexit, this will create an even greater vacuum in the delivery of health services and put more pressures on our over-burdened health service.

“Minister Simon Harris needs to engage with the Minister of Health in the Assembly as a matter of urgency to ensure that current and future cross border projects are maintained and secured for the future. Illness, disease and health know no borders and these figures demonstrate that people are willing to travel for vital services and treatments when they are needed. It is a logical step to integrate services, particularly in those areas where there are deficiencies and demands here.” 

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