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Private healthcare in Northern Ireland

Although UK residents are entitled to treatment from the Health Service, some people choose to pay for private health treatment or get it from work as a company benefit.

Secondary care, which refers to more specialised health treatment such as hospitals, mental health provision and care for the elderly, is especially well served by the private sector. While people may be registered with an NHS GP the private sector is often used for secondary care such as:

  • Diagnostic tests for certain conditions
  • One-off specialist treatment, such as visiting a dermatologist
  • Specific operations in a private hospital
  • Non-essential treatment such as cosmetic surgery
  • Treatment for addiction or rehabilitation

Private hospitals

The private sector is much smaller than the NHS and has different structures of accountability.

Private hospitals in Northern Ireland include:

Private health insurance

Health insurance is used to pay for private care in hospital or from various health professionals in hospitals or in their practices.

The Money Advice Service  provides useful information on their page ‘Do you need private medical insurance?

Cross border issues

If you’re already covered by private health insurance in Northern Ireland you may be able to transfer to a health insurance provider in the Republic of Ireland. EU legislation requires insurers to allow members to transfer to another provider without penalty.

Frontier workers

If you live in one jurisdiction and work in another you may be eligible for healthcare both where you live and where you work, for further information please visit BorderPeople / Healthcare for Frontier workers.

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