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Getting healthcare in Ireland

This page is available in other languages:

Ukrainian - Як отримати медичну допомогу в Ірландії

Russian - Получение услуг здравоохранения в Ирландии

Find information about where to get help when you’re unwell and information on common health topics.

Videos on healthcare in Ireland

Medical card

If you have a medical card, you do not have to pay to see your doctor or pay for medicines your doctor prescribes. If you arrived in Ireland from Ukraine and have temporary protection permission to stay in Ireland, you will automatically qualify for a medical card.

You need the following information to apply for a medical card:

  • your name, current address and date of birth
  • Personal Public Service (PPS) number
  • GP acceptance and signature - if you do not have a preferred GP, one will be assigned to you and your family

General practitioners (GPs) are family doctors.

A Personal Public Service (PPS) number is a unique reference number that helps you access social welfare benefits, public services and information in Ireland.

A PPS number is always 7 numbers followed by 1 or 2 letters.

You will get information about how to get a PPS number when you arrive in Ireland.

If you are already in Ireland, go to your local Intreo Centre or Branch Office. Staff will help you to get a PPS number.

Find an Intreo Centre or Branch office

Applying for a medical card

To apply for a medical card:

  1. Complete the application form - make sure all your information is correct.
  2. Post the completed form to the National Medical Card Unit, PO Box 11745, Dublin 11, D11 XKF3 or email the completed form to PCRS.Applications@HSE.ie.

Download the English application form for the medical card
Download the Ukrainian application form for the medical card
Download the Russian application form for the medical card

If you move address, let us know. You may lose eligibility if you do not keep your contact details up to date.

If you do not speak English

If you do not speak English, tell the medical staff and ask if they can arrange an interpreter for you. In some cases, the hospital or health clinic can provide an interpreter.

Download an English-Ukrainian phrasebook to help you communicate in a medical emergency (PDF, size 1.6MB, 84 pages)

Download an English-Russian phrasebook to help you communicate in a medical emergency (PDF, size 3MB, 82 pages)

Getting care if you’re unwell

What you need to do depends on how unwell you are:

A little unwell

If you’re a little unwell, you can usually treat yourself at home. For example, if you have a cold.

Ask a pharmacist for advice. They can tell what medicines you can get without a prescription.

Find a pharmacy

Read about common illnesses you can treat at home

Services available at community pharmacies

You can visit a pharmacy if you feel unwell or need help with your medicines. Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals.

They provide the following:

  • medicines you can buy without a prescription
  • medicines you have a prescription for
  • information on how to take your medicines correctly
  • advice on minor illnesses and when to see a GP (family doctor)

If you have a prescription from Ukraine and need your medicines urgently, the pharmacist may be able to give you a small supply. Bring your prescription, the medicine packet and your passport when you go to the pharmacy. You will need to see a GP (family doctor) to get a new prescription.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, do not go to the pharmacy. Ask someone else to go for you.

You need medical help

If you’re unwell and need medical advice, see a GP (family doctor). You usually need to make an appointment.

Appointments are free if you have a medical card. The cost of an appointment is around €50 to €60 if you do not have a medical card.

GPs can treat general health problems.

Find a GP

GP services are usually open from 9am to 6pm on Monday to Friday. If you need urgent medical care outside of these hours, contact an out of hours service.

Find a GP out of hours service

At your GP appointment

Make some notes of things you want to discuss or remember to tell your GP. Take those notes with you on the day. Bring your medical card if you have one.

Your GP will ask you about your health, medical history and symptoms you have.

They may do the following:

  • give you advice about how to manage your symptoms at home
  • do some tests to find out more about your symptoms
  • talk to you about treatment options
  • give you a prescription for medicines
  • refer you to a doctor that specialises in the symptoms you have - if the GP cannot diagnose your illness or treat you

Ask your GP questions about your treatment or medicine if you need to.

If your GP thinks you need urgent treatment, they will send you to a hospital.

You need urgent medical help

In an emergency, you can do either of the following:

  • phone 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance
  • go to your nearest emergency department or hospital

Find an emergency department (ED) near you

The emergency department in a hospital treats the following issues:

  • serious illness
  • serious injury
  • people at risk of dying

The emergency department will only treat you for these serious issues. Go to a GP or the GP out of hours service for all other treatments.

If you are not in immediate danger, do not go to the emergency department unless your GP tells you to and gives you a letter for the hospital staff. If you go to the emergency department and it is not an emergency, expect to wait a long time.

Minor injuries can be treated at an injury unit.

Find an injury unit

Read more about when to call 999 or 112

Getting dental care in Ireland

If you have a medical card, you can get some basic dental treatments for free. A dentist can tell you if the treatment you need is covered by the medical card. You can visit any dentist who accepts medical cards.

Many private dentists accept medical cards. You can ask them before you make an appointment. 

You may have to pay for some dental treatment.

Find a dentist on the Irish Dental Association website

Getting contraception and sexual health services in Ireland

You can get advice and prescriptions for contraception from your GP or a family planning clinic. GP services are free if you have a medical card.

You can also get emergency contraception in a pharmacy without a prescription.

Read more about the types of contraception available in Ireland

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV testing

Getting pregnancy care in Ireland

You can get pregnancy care for free in Ireland through the Maternity and Infant Care scheme. Your GP can help you register for the scheme.

Read more about the care covered by the scheme

Unplanned pregnancy support

If you need support for an unplanned pregnancy, MyOptions provides counselling and information. The service is free and confidential.

You can talk to a counsellor about all your options, including continued pregnancy supports and abortion services.

If you do not speak English, we can provide an interpreter. Call us on freephone 1800 828 010. You or someone on your behalf will need to tell us what language you speak and give us your phone number. An interpreter will call you back and help you speak to a MyOptions counsellor over the telephone.

Read more about MyOptions and unplanned pregnancy supports

Sexual assault treatment units (SATU)

A sexual assault treatment unit (SATU) is a safe, free and confidential place to go if you have been raped or sexually assaulted. We help anyone who has had unwanted sexual contact of any kind, by providing specialist medical assistance following sexual assault or rape. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in 6  locations across Ireland.

Information in Ukrainian about confidential and free sexual assault response services in Ireland
Information in Russian about confidential and free sexual assault response services in Ireland

Mental health support

The following mental health supports and services are available:

Find mental health support and services

How to access mental health supports and services (YouTube)
Advice on minding your mental health (YouTube)

Talk to your GP if you are having difficulties with your mental health.

They can refer you to specialist mental health services.

Organisations that offer free mental health support

Aware

Aware provides free support, education and information for people with mental health issues as well as their family and friends.

Information on support groups for people from Ukraine - on aware.ie

Childline

Childline offers a confidential 24-hour listening service for children and young people up to the age of 18.

Phone 1800 66 66 66 or 116 111

Text 50101 from 10am to 4pm every day

Chat online at www.childline.ie

MyMind

MyMind provides free counselling and psychotherapy for people affected by the war in Ukraine. The service is available in English and 17 other languages. You can access the service in person, online or by phone. 

Phone 0818 500 800

Visit mymind.org

Text 50808

Text 80808 is a free 24/7 text service. It provides everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis – big or small.

Text HELLO to 50808, anytime day or night. 

Visit www.text50808.ie

spunout

Articles and information for young people about accessing the healthcare and social welfare systems in Ireland.

spunout resources for Ukrainians in Ireland

Getting vaccinations in Ireland

Vaccinations can help to protect you and your family against certain diseases. You can talk about vaccines you or your child need with your GP or public health nurse. They can answer any questions you have.

What is a public health nurse

Public health nurses provide care in the community. A public health nurse may visit you if a GP or hospital refers you to the service.

They usually look after the following people:

  • babies and children
  • new mothers
  • older people

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.

Read more about protecting yourself against COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines your baby will get

From 2 months to 13 months, babies in Ireland get a series of vaccines to protect them against some very infectious diseases. You can get these vaccines through a GP.

The vaccines include the following:

  • 6 in 1 - protects against 6 diseases: diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pertussis (whooping cough), polio and tetanus
  • MenB - protects against meningococcal B disease
  • PCV - protects against pneumococcal disease
  • Rotavirus - protects against rotavirus infection, the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children in Ireland
  • MenC - protects against meningococcal C disease
  • MMR - protects against measles, mumps and rubella (also called German
  • measles)
  • Hib - protects against haemophilus influenzae type B

Read more about the immunisation schedule for babies

Talk to your GP if your baby did not get some of these vaccines.

Vaccines your child will get

Your child can get some vaccines in school in Ireland. You will get details of the vaccines and a consent form before your child is vaccinated. Your child will only get the vaccines if you give your consent.

Primary school

Children aged 4 to 5 get the 4 in 1 and MMR vaccines. The 4 in 1 vaccine protects against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and tetanus. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

Read more about the 4 in 1 and MMR vaccines

Secondary school

Children aged 12 to 13 get the HPV, Tdap and Men ACWY vaccines.

The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV virus. The HPV virus can cause cancer.

The Tdap vaccine protects against the following infections:

  • tetanus
  • diphtheria
  • pertussis (whooping cough)

The Men ACWY vaccine protects against four types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

Read more about the HPV, Tdap and Men ACWY vaccines

Adult vaccines

Check your immunisation records to see if you got the vaccines included in the Irish immunisation schedule. If you did not get these vaccines, talk to a GP.

Vaccines and pregnancy

If you are planning to get pregnant, make sure that you are immune to infection from rubella. Rubella infection during pregnancy causes major birth defects in 9 in 10 babies. It may also cause miscarriage or stillbirth.

A GP can check if you are immune to rubella infection. MMR vaccination is only required if you do not have documentation of having had at least one MMR vaccine in the past.

During pregnancy you can get the following vaccines:

  • flu vaccine - this is safe to get at any time during your pregnancy
  • COVID-19 vaccine - this is safe to get at any time during your pregnancy
  • pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine - get this vaccine between 16 and 36 weeks of pregnancy to get the best protection for your baby

Read more about vaccines and pregnancy

Measles

You need 2 doses of the MMR vaccine to get protection against measles. Anyone can get measles if they did not get the MMR vaccines.

Check if it’s measles

The first symptoms of measles are:

  • cold-like symptoms such as aches and pains, a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
  • sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above (fever), which may reach around 40 degrees Celsius
  • small greyish-white spots in your mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy

Contact your GP as soon as possible if:

  • you think you or your child have measles

Call your GP’s surgery before your visit, as they may need to make arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Contact your GP or maternity hospital urgently if:

  • you are pregnant and you think you might have measles

Prevent the spread of measles

Do not go to childcare, school, work for at least 4 days from when the rash first appears.

To reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others, avoid contact with young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

If your child is in childcare or school, tell them if your child develops measles. Children in your child's group or class may need to be vaccinated if they are not fully vaccinated against measles.

Tell the accommodation manager if you are in shared accommodation and you or your child develops measles.

Read more about measles

Download a poster in English on what to do if someone develops measles
Download a poster in Ukrainian on what to do if someone develops measles
Download a poster in Russian on what to do if someone develops measles

Screening programmes

Breast screening

Breast screening provides free breast cancer screening to all women between the ages of 50 and 69 every 2 years. Breast screening involves having a mammogram (x-ray) at a BreastCheck clinic or mobile screening unit.

Freephone 1800 45 45 55 for more details.

Important information about your breast screening appointment

Bowel screening

BowelScreen off­ers free bowel screening to men and women aged 60 to 69. Bowel screening aims to detect signs of bowel cancer at an early stage, where there are no symptoms.

Freephone 1800 45 45 55 for more details.

Important information about your bowel screening

Diabetic retinopathy screening

Diabetic RetinaScreen offers free, regular diabetic retinopathy eye screening to those aged 12 and older, diagnosed with diabetes.

Freephone 1800 45 45 55 for more details.

About diabetic retinopathy screening

Cervical screening

CervicalCheck provides free cervical screening to women and people with a cervix who live in Ireland and are aged 25 to 65.

Freephone 1800 45 45 55 to register or for details.

Information sheet on cervical screening

Newborn bloodspot screening

In the first week after your baby is born, you will be offered newborn bloodspot screening for your baby. This is often called the ‘heel prick’.

What you need to know about newborn bloodspot screening - 'heel prick'

Support for people with disabilities

Adults and children with disabilities in Ireland can get support to live in and be part of their community.

We provide support for people with:

  • intellectual disabilities
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • difficulties with seeing (blind or visually impaired)
  • difficulties with hearing
  • difficulties with walking
  • difficulties with feeding or dressing

The services we provide can include:

  • visits from a public health nurse (PHN)
  • home help or personal assistance
  • psychological services
  • speech and language therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • social work services
  • physiotherapy
  • daycare or respite care

There are waiting lists for some services. How long you wait depends on the type of support you need and the demand for services in your area.

Accessing disability services

You can make your own referral to the following disability services.

Making a referral to children’s disability services

Children’s disability services can help your child develop skills they can use at home or in school.

To refer your child to a children’s disability service, do the following:

  1. Complete the Children’s Services Referral Form (PDF, 101kb, 11 pages).
  2. Complete the additional information form for your child’s age group.
  3. Send the forms to the children's disability service in your area.

Making a referral for day services for adults

Day services include activities and training courses that support adults with disabilities to live and work in the community.

To access day services for adults, do the following:

  1. Complete the HSE Referral Form (size 218.9 KB, 3 pages).
  2. Send the form to the disability day service office in your area.

Support organisations

Waiting lists for some disability services can be long. There are other organisations that can provide information and support.

Organisations for people with disabilities and their families (in English)

Organisations for carers (in English)

Find information about special needs education on citizensinformation.ie (in English)

Advocacy services

The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) is an organisation that helps adults with disabilities. It provides a free and confidential advocacy service. Advocacy services support people with disabilities to make decisions, say what they want and get services they need.

Visit the NAS website

To request International Sign Language interpreters, contact the Irish Deaf Society.

Email: advocacy@irishdeafsociety.ie

Phone or text: 086 440 1443

Financial support

You may be entitled to financial support and allowances. Contact your local Intreo office for more information.

Information on where to get social welfare supports - on gov.ie

Information in English

You can find more information in English on this website on the following topics:

Related Content

page last reviewed: 14/04/2022
next review due: 14/04/2025