Healthcare in the Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland there are two health systems. A public health system that anybody can use and private health care provided through private health insurance.

A common problem with the public health system is consultant waiting times. It could take a year or more to see a consultant. As a result, many people pay annually for private health insurance through companies like Aviva, Laya or VHI.

With private insurance, patients are generally able to see a consultant within two months. The only exception, however, can be neurologists, who are often the very experts that those with a CSF leak need to see. They regularly have a waiting list of three months or more.

As is generally the case in the UK, patients in the Republic of Ireland cannot go directly to a consultant, whether publicly or privately, and have to be referred by their GP.

In Ireland, there are numerous private hospitals which holders of private health insurance have access to. Access to neurological and ENT specialists can, however, be more limited rural areas.

Unfortunately, there are few consultants with in-depth knowledge or experience of CSF leaks, either in the public or private systems. Accordingly, we are unable to list any CSF leak specialists in Ireland at this time; however we hope to be in a position to do so soon.

Treatment outside of the Republic of Ireland

In Ireland, patients can get tax relief for medical treatment obtained outside of the country. In order to benefit from these reliefs, you will need a letter from your consultant in Ireland stating that “you need to travel abroad to get medical treatment”.

The following must also apply to medical expenses accrued abroad in order to qualify for tax relief:

  • The cost of qualifying treatment carried out by a practitioner (GP, consultant or dentist) provided such practitioner is entitled under the laws of the country in which the care is provided to practice medicine or dentistry there; and

  • The cost of maintenance or treatment in a hospital, nursing home or clinic provided the expenses incurred are in association with the services of a practitioner or in connection with diagnostic procedures carried out on the advice of a practitioner.

Where the relevant qualifying health care is only available outside of the Republic of Ireland, then the cost of reasonable travelling and accommodation expenses are also allowable. In such cases, the expenses of one person accompanying the patient may also be allowed where the condition of the patient requires it. Where the patient is a child, the expenses of one parent may generally be allowed and, exceptionally, of both parents where it is clear that both have to be in attendance.

More information of tax reliefs is available at the following website:

Please note - for the year 2009, the institution must be entered on the Revenue’s list of approved hospitals and nursing homes. This requirement does not apply for the year 2010 and following years. However, tax relief will only be allowed where the maintenance or treatment in a hospital is in connection with the services of a practitioner and/or, diagnostic procedures carried out on the advice of a practitioner.

Income and Disability Benefits

A variety of benefit schemes can be available to disabled people in Ireland, depending on the type and severity of their disability.

The current benefit schemes include: Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension , Blind Pension, Partial Capacity Benefit , Workplace Supports and Other Supports.

CSF Leak sufferers, whether employed or unemployed, should contact their local Revenue office for advice and to discuss what may be applicable to their situation.

More information is available here:

Disabled Parking Permits

As is the case in most European countries, the Republic of Ireland has a blue badge scheme known as the Disabled Parking Permit Scheme. The scheme is administered by the Disabled Drivers Association and the Irish Wheelchair Association.

The scheme rules are very strict and it can be hard for those with CSF Leaks to qualify, particularly given intracranial hypotension is an ‘invisible’ illness. As is the case with similar schemes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, it is vital that you clearly describe the impact your condition has on your mobility. You may physically be able to walk, but it is vital that you explain how the severe pain and discomfort associated with a CSF leak can make it all-but impossible in practice.

Last reviewed: 2021

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