Health Services

The Department of Health has responsibility for the planning of health services in Ireland. Public health services (or Government funded services) are provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). There are also a range of private health care providers.

Whether or not you are entitled to public health services in Ireland depends on your residency status, whether or not you have met a residency requirement and also your means. In general, you will need to show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland to have either full or limited eligibility to health services.

How can I find out more about public healthcare in Ireland?

A booklet by the Health Services Executive entitled "Your Health Guide" has some very useful basic information about the Irish Health Service for people who may be new to Ireland or people whose first language is not English.
The HSE has made this booklet available on its website in several different languages. You can use the links below to read the booklet.
Arabic Czech French Mandarin Chinese

Latvian Lithuanian Polish Russian


You will also find links to information translated into many languages on this page of this website.

The HSE has a robust complaints system in place called Your Service Your Say as part of the National Strategy for Service User Involvement. Click here for details.

Details on how to use the system is available at this

You can access lists of HSE complaints officers located in hospital, primary care and ambulance service settings at this link.

The Citizen's Information website has general information on health services in Ireland and the different eligibility criteria.

Cairde, a community development organisation provides information and advice to individuals and groups from ethnic minority communities to enable them to access health services. For more information see the health information and advocacy centre section of the Cairde website.

Where can I find more information about private health insurance in Ireland?

You may decide to take out voluntary private health insurance in Ireland. This insurance is used to pay or partially pay for private care in hospitals or from health professionals in hospitals or in their practices.

The Health Insurance Authority has a role in providing information and assistance to people wishing to take out private insurance.

How can I find out if I am eligible for a medical card or for a G.P.(Doctor) (Visit) Card, and how can I apply for one?

This page of the HSE website tell you how to work out if you are eligible for a medical card. This page of the HSE website tells you how to apply for this card.

The Citizens' Information website has general information on medical cards on its website.

Intercultural Health Strategy

In 2007, the HSE launched its first National Intercultural Health Strategy which was developed on foot of the National Action Plan against Racism launched by An Taoiseach in 2005.

The Strategy is designed to ensure that the HSE provides a quality health service equally to all, responds appropriately to the specific health and social care needs of new and well established minority communities and is an employer of choice for many. A summary of this Strategy is available on the HSE website in the following languages: -


Since publication, implementation of the Strategy has progressed on three main themes and these are Access to services; Data, Information & Research; and Staff Learning, Training and Support.

Updates to the National Intercutural Health Strategy were published in
March 2009,
September 2009,
March 2010,
September 2010 ,
March 2011,
September 2011 and

March 2012

Guideline for Communication in Cross-Cultural General Practice Consultations

The Department of General Practice, NUI, Galway, the Centre for Participatory Strategies, Co. Galway and the HSE Social Inclusion Unit, Dublin have developed and published this guideline. They employed an extensive participatory research approach to involve service users from migrant communities and other key stakeholders in the generation of guidance for best practice. The results are based on a consensus view across stakeholder groups.

The research was funded by the Health Research Board and the HSE Social Inclusion Unit.

The recommended best practice is to use a trained, accredited professional interpreter or to consult with a general practitioner who has fluency in the language of the service user. Using children and other family members or friends as interpreters, and the use of visual or computer aids such as phrase books or on-line translation programmes, are not considered best practice by the stakeholders involved.

The full Guideline is available here.

^ Back to top