Bus takes Irish patents to Belfast


A group of 13 people from Cork and Kerry travelled across the border to Northern Ireland so they wouldn’t go blind. They boarded a bus to Belfast for cataract operations. Some had stopped working because their co-ordination was gone, whilst others experienced a loss of independence so great that they no longer felt safe as motorists.

There are 8,667 people on Ireland's cataract waiting list, a list that could involve anything from a one-year wait to four years. It is during this time, waiting to be seen by a consultant or waiting for a cataract operation, that people, quite literally, go blind.

Irish politicians Michael Collins and Danny Healy Rae, organised the first of what will be a series of monthly bus trips for fully refundable healthcare under the EU Cross Border Healthcare initiative.

The first patients went to Kingsbridge Private Hospital and each paid €1,500 for their operation, secure in the knowledge that they would get a full refund from the HSE within a few weeks. Kingsbridge will also offer knee and hip replacements and surgery, under the cross-border rules.

When the UK leaves the EU it will automatically leave the cross-border agreement unless a deal is done. After recent EU and UK negotiations, there is the strong possibility that an extension deal will keep it operational until the end of 2020.

Even if the EU cross-border deal ends, there may be continuation under separate rules. Dating back to before the EU, the rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s country are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949.



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