Post-Brexit cross-border health care scheme facilitating hip and knee surgeries in south extended

Health Minister Robins Swann has extended funding for a post-Brexit cross-border health care scheme that has allowed hundreds of patients from the north get their hips and knees replaced in the 26 counties.

The Cross-Border Healthcare Scheme (ROI Reimbursement Scheme) was due to end on Friday, July 1.

But Mr. Swann has allocated £5m in funding to allow the scheme to continue, though he has admitted it is 'funding that I do not currently have in my Department’s baseline so it is a decision that I have taken at risk'.

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"You will be aware that in June 2021, I announced a new Cross-Border Healthcare Scheme (ROI Reimbursement Scheme) for a 12 month period from June 30, 2021 as the Cross Border Healthcare Directive no longer applies to the UK. This initiative, part of the Elective Care Framework, is aimed at reducing Northern Ireland waiting lists.

89% of the applications to date to the ROIRS relate to orthopaedics, the vast majority of which relate to hip and knee replacements.

"The scheme has been very successful, with significant patient interest. From July 1, 2021 to the end of April 2022 there were 2,842 applications received and 2,246 applications already approved.

"By comparison in the 2020/21 year, prior to the introduction of the new scheme there were 1,466 applications to use the previous Cross Border Healthcare Directive throughout the EU, of which 886 were for the provision of services in RoI," said Mr. Swann.

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It's emerged that the vast majority of funded operations were hip and knee surgeries.

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"Some 89% of the applications to date to the ROIRS relate to orthopaedics, the vast majority of which relate to hip and knee replacements. Therefore the scheme has provided valuable orthopaedic capacity as the service locally rebuilds.

"As HSC capacity is continuing to grow I have therefore taken the decision to extend the ROIRS by allocating a further £5m to permit its continued utilisation beyond the planned June 30 2022 deadline.

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"New applications can be accepted from July 1, 2022. These will be processed in chronological order and scheme closure will be deferred until the £5m funding has been committed.

"This is funding that I do not currently have in my Department’s baseline so it is a decision that I have taken at risk, however given the obvious benefits of the scheme it was one I felt was necessary as essential HSC capacity continues to become increasingly available over the coming weeks and months," said Mr. Swann.

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