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Getting healthcare in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NIPHS) allows you to claim back some of the cost of certain healthcare in Northern Ireland.

You can only use the NIPHS to access private healthcare in Northern Ireland. You cannot use it for public healthcare.

You must pay for any healthcare that you get in Northern Ireland.

But you can apply to the HSE for repayment of some of the costs of the healthcare under the NIPHS.

The NIPHS is similar to the Cross Border Directive (CBD). You can use the CBD if you want to get healthcare in another EU or EEA member state.

Using private health services in Northern Ireland

How to use health services in Northern Ireland under the NIPHS:

  1. Check that you qualify for public healthcare in Ireland.
  2. Have a letter of referral for healthcare from a public health professional in Ireland.
  3. Arrange a consultation with a private healthcare provider in Northern Ireland - this is called an outpatient appointment.
  4. Travel to Northern Ireland for healthcare and keep proof of travel such as receipts for accommodation or parking.
  5. Pay for any healthcare you get in Northern Ireland.
  6. Complete the NIPHS pro forma invoice with your healthcare provider in Northern Ireland.
  7. Apply for repayment towards the cost of the healthcare you received.

You must travel to Northern Ireland to get healthcare. You cannot have treatment by telemedicine at any time during the NIPHS process.

Qualifying for the NIPHS

To get healthcare in Northern Ireland and claim a repayment under the NIPHS you must:

  • be ordinarily resident in Ireland - living in Ireland for at least 1 year
  • be entitled to public healthcare in Ireland
  • travel to Northern Ireland for your healthcare - you cannot use telemedicine
  • have a referral for healthcare from a GP or public hospital consultant in Ireland
  • provide a copy of a letter of referral or a letter from a hospital to say you're on a public waiting list in Ireland
  • apply for repayment towards the cost of your healthcare in Northern Ireland after you have paid for it

If you are unsure if you qualify for the NIPHS, contact the NIPHS office.

Private health insurance and referrals

You can only use a referral from a GP or a consultant you see as a public patient under the NIPHS.

Having private health insurance does not exclude you from the NIPHS. But you cannot use your private health insurance to get your referral.

Read more about using a referral to get healthcare in Northern Ireland

Travel, telemedicine and the NIPHS

You must travel to Northern Ireland to get your healthcare.

You cannot use telemedicine at any time during the NIPHS process. This includes your outpatient appointment.

Telemedicine is when you get a diagnosis, treatment or consultation using telecommunications technology. For example, you cannot have your outpatient consultation with a consultant in Northern Ireland by video call.

You must pay your own travel costs. You cannot claim for any travel costs under the NIPHS.

Read more about what you can claim under the NIPHS

page last reviewed: 25/01/2022
next review due: 25/01/2025