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Patients travelling outside Northern Ireland for treatment
Image of an aeroplane.

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.

Note: your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 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 three main ways by which patients may receive planned (not emergency) treatment outside Northern Ireland:

1. Transfer for treatment by the Health and Social Care Board

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

2. S2 (E112) mandated treatment

The S2 (or E112) route is one where an individual seeks access to state-funded treatment in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. It is not suitable for treatment outside Northern Ireland in another part of the UK. Find out more about S2 (E112) mandated treatment

3. The EU Directive on cross border healthcare (Article 56)

The cross border healthcare route is one where an individual (i.e. not the Health and Social Care Board or the HSC Trust) seeks access to treatment in another European Economic Area (EEA) country in either the state or private sectors. Unlike other options, this arises where the Board considers treatment is available locally or within the rest of the UK within a medically/clinically appropriate time period, but a patient has nonetheless opted to seek treatment elsewhere. Find out more about the EU Directive on cross border healthcare

Your entitlement to financial reimbursement will depend on the route used.

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.

Taking your prescription to another European Economic Area (EEA) country

If you are planning to have your prescription dispensed in another EEA country then there are certain criteria that need to be on your prescription form.

The criteria are set out in the Annex to Directive 2012/52/EU which can be accessed on the Department of Health’s website 

The EU Commission website provides more information about cross border care including a short video, questions and answers, and contact details for the National Contact Point in each country.

National Contact Point

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
E: NationalContactPoint@hscni.net
T: +44 (0)28 9536 3152

Patient Travel Services

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
E: patient.travel@hscni.net


Guidance on the Reimbursement of Expenses for Patients Travelling outside Northern Ireland for Treatment or Care

Further Information

NHS Choices

NHS England – European Health Insurance Card

ROI Health Service Executive

Department of Health

EU Commission