Charges for hospital services

Who can use public hospitals in Ireland?

If you live in Ireland and you are ordinarily resident you can access in-patient and out-patient services in public hospitals. Public hospitals include HSE hospitals and voluntary hospitals.

Certain visitors to Ireland are also entitled to public health services, for example, people covered under EU Regulations.

Are public hospitals free in Ireland?

Public in-patient and day service fees were abolished on 17 April 2023. This means that the daily charge for staying in hospital for public patients no longer applies from this date.

COVID-19 is a prescribed infectious disease so you do not have to pay emergency department (A&E) charges or in-patient charges if you are getting treatment for COVID-19.

If you don’t live in Ireland (ordinarily resident) and you do not belong to any of the groups that can get free health services, you have to pay the full cost of the bed, whether it is a public bed or a private bed. You also have to pay the consultant.

The HSE has the discretion to reduce or waive the charges in cases of hardship.

Charges for going to an emergency department

If you attend an emergency department without being referred there by a GP, there is a charge of €100.

There is no charge if you are referred by a GP (bring your referral letter with you).

Emergency department charges do not apply to:

  • Medical card holders
  • People who are admitted to hospital as an in-patient as a result of attending the casualty department (you may be subject to in-patient charges)
  • People getting treatment for prescribed infectious diseases, including COVID-19
  • Children up to 6 weeks of age
  • Children with illnesses and disabilities as set out in Regulations: “mental handicap, mental illness, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, haemophilia and cerebral palsy
  • Children referred for treatment from child health clinics and school health examinations
  • People who are entitled to hospital services because of EU Regulations
  • Women getting maternity services
  • People with Hepatitis C who have a Health Amendment Act Card
  • Participants in the Redress Scheme for Women Resident in Certain Institutions

You will be charged €100 at your first visit to the emergency department for an illness or accident. If you have to return for further visits to an out-patient clinic in relation to the same illness or accident, you should not have to pay the charge again.

Injury units

If you have an injury that is not life threatening you can visit an injury unit. Injury units can treat broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns. Read more about when you can visit an injury unit.

The charge to attend an injury unit is €75. You do not have to pay the charge if you have a medical card or if you have a referral letter from a GP.

Check the list of injury units, their location, opening hours and minimum age for treating children.

Out-patient services

You can be referred by your family doctor to the out-patients department of a public hospital for specialist assessment by a consultant or their team or for diagnostic assessments (for example, x-rays, laboratory tests, physiotherapy).

If you have an out-patient appointment you will not be staying overnight in the hospital.

How much do out-patient appointments cost?

If you are referred by your GP to attend this service as a public patient, you do not have to pay for this service. If you wish to attend a consultant in a private capacity, you must pay their fee.

Charges for in-patients

Public in-patients in public hospitals

If you are a public patient in a public hospital under the care of a consultant for treatment and you remain overnight, you are receiving overnight in-patient services.

You can also be an in-patient if you are admitted to the hospital under the care of a consultant and you do not require the use of a bed overnight and your discharge from hospital is planned. This is called day in-patient services.

How much do public in-patient appointments cost?

Public in-patient fees were abolished on 17 April 2023. This means that the daily charge for staying in hospital for public patients no longer applies from this date.

Private in-patients in public hospitals

If you choose to be treated as a private patient of a consultant when you are admitted to a public hospital, you are charged for the inpatient services.

How much you are charged as a private patient depends on the category of the hospital and (for an overnight stay) according to the type of room you are in.

You may be able to claim some of the cost back if you have private health insurance.

Current rates are:

Hospital category Single-occupancy room overnight Multiple-occupancy room overnight Day-case
Fifth schedule hospitals €1,000 €813 €407
Sixth schedule hospitals €800 €659 €329

These rates apply from January 2014.

You can read more about the current rates of private in patient charges on the HSE website.

If you are a private patient, you must pay for the services of the consultant who is treating you. You must also pay for the services of any other consultant who is involved in caring for you (for example, the radiation oncologist or anaesthetist).

Long-stay contributions

If you have been in hospital, but not receiving acute in-patient care, for more than 30 days, you may be charged Long-Stay Contributions for Residential Support Services.

Charges for mental health services

You have the same entitlement to public health services for mental illness as for any other illness.

If you are going to a private psychiatric hospitals you will be charged. Health insurance companies sometimes treat psychiatric hospital costs differently from general hospital costs.

The same rules apply to long-term institutional care for psychiatric patients as to long-term institutional care for other patients.

Out-patient services for mental illness are provided free of charge to children aged under 16 years.

Page edited: 17 April 2023