- 14 Jul 22
Eligible patients will be treated under the EU Cross Border Directive, with the price of their treatment covered by the HSE.
Patients stuck on long Irish waiting lists are being offered treatments at a new hospital in Spain.
The new €60 million state-of-the-art private hospital in Dénia, Alicante will offer almost every treatment currently available under the Irish public health system. It aims to carry out around 1,500 treatments a year on Irish patients alone.
New figures have revealed that the HSE has spent over €2 million in 2022 at private hospitals in Europe under the EU Cross Border Directive, where patients treated privately abroad are later refunded the costs by the state.
However, many can't afford the upfront fees, with operations such as hip replacements costing up to €10,000 in Spain.
However, credit unions in Ireland are providing a loan service for people to undergo their medical operations abroad. Patients can use the loan to pay for their treatment in the EU, and pay it back when they are reimbursed by the HSE.
Eligible patients can apply for the loan with as little as €5 in their account.
Healthcare Abroad said it has worked closely with the new Spanish hospital to provide a "home away from home" for Irish patients, including Irish food menus.
Travel and accommodation costs will not be refunded.
First South Credit Union chief executive, George Cantwell, explained “People don’t come directly to us. They deal with Healthcare Abroad. [Healthcare Abroad] determine eligibility, and they assist the individual with the paperwork. They would then give us a heads-up to say, for example, 'Mary Murphy is looking for this facility'.”
The HSE has acknowledged that Ireland's waiting lists are creating opportunities for private hospitals abroad, but said the involvement of credit unions could see patients getting treated sooner.
General manager of the HSE commercial unit, Catherine Donohue, said “In an ideal world we wouldn’t have patients waiting, but there are patients waiting.”
Donohue described these new patient funding opportunities as “exciting” for patients.