Cross Border Healthcare Directive: How One Patient Skipped the HSE Waiting List

5th, November 2018

Welcome to our new monthly Meet The Patient feature! Our first patient story features Sean, who is 79 years old and from Cork.

Sean is 79 years old and lives with his wife Brid in Kinsale Co Cork, they have 6 children and 15 grandchildren. Sean is a retired secondary school teacher, having taught History and Gaelic for over 42 years.

Sean & Brid love to travel, and when they aren’t planning their next trip away Sean is kept busy helping his children with their own DIY jobs around their homes.

Up until Easter of this year Sean was “without a twinge” until a bunion had to be removed from the outside of his foot.  Shortly after that he experienced what he thought was muscle pain around the groin and hip so he decided to visit his local Physiotherapist.  After several unsuccessful physio sessions Sean’s pain became unbearable so he visited his GP. His GP recommended an x-ray and upon viewing the images Sean was referred on to see a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon for consideration of a Total Hip Replacement.

He was advised by his GP that the waiting list was approximately 3-4 years for surgery, and without health insurance to have the procedure performed privately it would cost him approximately €12,000.00.

“I remember thinking at the time that there was no way I was going to limp around for several years” says Sean.

Thankfully Sean’s Daughter In Law knew of a piece of legislation called the EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive that allows citizens to avail of treatment abroad.  Sean remembers at the time thinking that he probably wouldn’t be eligible as he had just seen his GP that week and hadn’t even seen a Consultant yet. He was delighted to learn that he didn’t need to be on a waiting list and he could start the journey of accessing treatment abroad immediately.

Sean considered all the options, he looked into France, Lithuania and mainland UK, however he decided that the fact that he could use “public transport to Belfast without hitting any traffic lights” was the obvious choice. Sean had a consultation with Hip and Knee Surgeon Mr Graham Bailie in July who diagnosed severe osteoarthritis, and had his surgery in Kingsbridge Private Hospital in September this year.

Sean continues.. “I arrived on the Wednesday morning to Belfast for surgery and was heading back down the road on Friday afternoon with my new hip. Besides the amazing clinical staff, the kitchen staff in Kingsbridge with the tea, cake and chat was unbelievable, also the staff at the National Contact Point of the HSE were fantastic. I had my review in Kingsbridge last week and I am now pain free, my wound has healed well and my surgeon is chuffed with me, I can sleep on any side now! Anytime I see someone now with a limp at the bus stop I go over to them to tell them about the Cross Border Directive – they probably think I am a nuisance”


Mr Sean O’Riordan attended Kingsbridge Private Hospital as a Cross Border Directive Patient, if you reside in ROI and would like to know more about how this directive works please contact our dedicated Cross Border Line on 04890688858 or e-mail for further information on managing your Arthritis contact Arthritis Ireland on Tel: 1890 252 846

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