If you wish to receive medical treatment outside Northern Ireland, it’s important to understand how it works and the assistance you may be able to access.
This guidance applies to patients who are travelling outside Northern Ireland to access healthcare assessment and/or treatment. It is not relevant for travel within Northern Ireland for health and social care services.
On 16 June 2021, the Health Minister announced a new limited version of the Cross Border Healthcare Directive for the Republic of Ireland for a 12 month period from 1 July 2021.
The Republic of Ireland Reimbursement Scheme will allow patients to seek and pay for routinely commissioned treatment in the private sector and have the costs, up to the cost of the treatment to the HSC in Northern Ireland, reimbursed. This does not apply to treatment in the private sector in Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland Reimbursement Scheme will be open to ordinary residents of Northern Ireland and be managed by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and all treatments are subject to prior authorisation.
Note: your Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is for emergency treatment that becomes necessary while you are outside the UK. It does not cover planned treatment – also known as elective treatment.
There are two main ways by which patients may receive planned (not emergency) treatment outside Northern Ireland:
This is known as an Extra Contractual Referral (ECR) and occurs when the Board approves a consultant’s request to transfer a patient to a provider outside Northern Ireland for assessment or treatment which the consultant considers necessary but which is not available through HSC (i.e. NHS) facilities locally. Find out more about transfer for treatment by the HSCB
The S2 (or E112) route is one where an individual seeks access to state-funded treatment in another European Economic Area (EEA) country. It is not suitable for treatment outside Northern Ireland in another part of the UK. Find out more about S2 (E112) mandated treatment
EU Directive 24/2011 on Cross-Border Healthcare which previously allowed Northern Ireland patients to obtain treatment in an EEA country, pay for the treatment up front and then claim reimbursement from the Health and Social Care Board, ended after the Brexit Transition Period on 31 December 2020.
Patients who have already received funding approval from the Board under the Cross Border Healthcare Scheme have a limited period to submit receipts and claim reimbursement.
Please note that the summary details given here are not exhaustive and you are strongly urged to contact the HSCB for advice before travelling or arranging any treatment.
If you are a resident in Northern Ireland seeking to travel elsewhere for treatment or, alternatively, if you are a non-resident interested in treatment in Northern Ireland please contact:
National Contact Point
Health and Social Care Board
12-22 Linenhall Street
Belfast BT2 8BS
T: +44 (0)28 9536 3152
The HSCB has a patient travel office which provides assistance for approved patients who are travelling outside Northern Ireland for planned treatment.
If you are travelling for planned treatment outside Northern Ireland contact the HSCB patient travel office. Patient travel officers can provide you with assistance and advice:
T: 0300 555 0116