Health Service Executive


Health and personal social services are delivered by the Health Service Executive (HSE), through medical professionals and hospitals and through a network of Local Health Offices, health centres and clinics at community level.

Health services can be broadly defined as those services that are concerned with the

  • Promotion of good health
  • Prevention of illness (for example, food safety services, immunisation and vaccinations services, health screening, infant and child health services)
  • The diagnosis and treatment of illness (for example, family doctor (GP) services, hospital services)

Community care and personal social services can be broadly defined as those that are designed to enable people to remain living in their communities, especially when they have difficulties doing so because of illness, disability or age. Examples include home nursing services, home helps, occupational therapy and social work services.

The HSE also has a role in preventing infectious diseases. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness which has not previously been seen in humans. You can get the latest advice and information on the coronavirus on the HSE website.

Provision of health and personal socialservices

Health and social care services are delivered through a number of National Service Delivery Divisions, responsible for the delivery of services to the public:

  • Acute hospitals
  • Social care
  • Mental health
  • Primary care
  • Health and wellbeing
  • National Ambulance Service

The Acute Hospitals Division works directly with acute hospitals across the country. Public hospitals are organised into 7 Hospital Groups – see below.

The Social Care Division supports people to live independently who may otherwise may have difficulty in doing so due to illness or disability. Services are delivered directly by the HSE or through agencies funded by the HSE.

The Mental Health Division has responsibility for area-based mental health services (inpatient centres and community-based teams), child and adolescent mental health, general adult mental health, psychiatry of old age, the National Forensic Mental Health Service, the National Counselling Service and the National Office for Suicide Prevention.

The Primary Care Division aims to ensure that the vast majority of people who require healthcare are managed within primary care and community-based settings of a high standard.

The Health and Wellbeing Division covers the areas of public health, heath protection, child health, national screening programmes, health promotion and improvement, environmental health and emergency management.

Hospital services

Acute hospital services are provided through 7 Hospital Groups:

  • Ireland East Hospitals Group
  • RCSI Hospitals Group (Dublin North East)
  • Dublin Midlands Hospitals Group
  • University of Limerick Hospitals
  • South/South West Hospitals Group
  • Saolta University Healthcare Group
  • Children’s Hospital Group

The hospitals making up each group work together to provide acute care for patients and work with health and social care services in the community. Local smaller hospitals can deliver care where appropriate while highly specialised and complex care is provided in larger hospitals.

Community healthcare services

Community healthcare services are the broad range of services that are provided outside of the acute hospital system and include primary care, social care, mental health, and health and wellbeing services. These services are delivered to people in local communities through the HSE and its funded agencies.

There are 9 Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) responsible for the delivery of primary and community-based services responsive to the needs of local communities. The CHOs are:

  • Area 1: Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan, Cavan/Monaghan.
  • Area 2: Galway, Roscommon, Mayo.
  • Area 3: Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary/East Limerick
  • Area 4: Kerry, North Cork, North Lee, South Lee, West Cork
  • Area 5: South Tipperary, Carlow Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford
  • Area 6: Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East
  • Area 7: Kildare/West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South City, Dublin South West
  • Area 8: Laois/Offaly, Longford/West Meath, Louth/Meath
  • Area 9: Dublin North, Dublin North Central, Dublin North West

Access to services

The main delivery point for community health and personal social services is through the network of 32 Local Health Offices and local health centres.

The wide range of services that are provided through Local Health Offices and health centres include general practitioner services, public health nursing, child health services, community welfare, chiropody, ophthalmic, speech therapy, social work, addiction counselling and treatment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychiatric services and home help.

Access to hospital services is through your GP/family doctor, except for Accident and Emergency services.

Page edited: 4 March 2020