Child health services

About health services for children

There is a range of health services for children in Ireland.

Some health services for children are free even if their parents do not have a medical card.

Services which are free of charge are generally provided as part of:

Most child health services are provided for children up to 16 years of age, however some services are provided for children up to 18 years of age.

This page includes different types of health services for children and information on consent to medical treatment for children.

Types of health services for children

GP visit card

The GP visit card for children under 6 is available to all children living in Ireland. If your child is over 6 years, the GP visit card is means tested.

Medical card

If you have a medical card, your child is included as a dependant on that card and is entitled to the same services as you.

A child may automatically qualify for a medical card if they:

  • Are in residential care
  • Living in Direct Provision
  • Have been diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years
  • Are in foster care

Medical cards for young people over 16

If you are aged 16–25 and dependent on a parent or guardian, you are eligible for a medical card if your parent or guardian has a medical card. (This does not apply if their income is above the means test limit and they have a discretionary medical card.)

In the medical card means test, there is an allowance for children aged over 16. This allowance is increased if the child is in third-level education and is not getting a grant.

Prescribed drugs and medicines

Children are covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme, as dependants, up to the age of 18 (or 23 if in full-time education).

A family member of any age can be included in the expenses if they have a physical or intellectual disability or an illness and cannot fully maintain themselves.

Hospitals

There are charges for public hospitals but some people are exempt from paying, including medical card holders.

If your child is admitted to a public hospital for treatment of defects discovered at child and school health checks, they do not have to pay the usual in-patient public hospital charges.

There are a number of children's hospitals in Ireland. Children’s hospitals provide in-patient services, out-patient services, day care, accident and emergency services and specialist services for children. Entitlement to hospital services is the same in children’s hospitals as in public and voluntary hospitals.

Disability services

Children's disability services are for children and young people up to 18 years. Read more on our page about caring for a child with a disability.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

CAMHS provides assessment and treatment for young people and their families who are experiencing mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and psychosis.

The service is for children up to 18 years of age. You must be referred by your GP to access CAMHS.

Consent to medical treatment

Children over the age of 16 may give consent to surgical, medical or dental procedures without the consent of a parent or guardian. Read about consent to medical treatment for children.

Further information

Your Local Health Office can tell you about the services that are available in your area. You can read information about the Assessment of Need for children with disabilities and children’s health.

The HSE website has information on the National Healthy Childhood Programme.


Page edited: 26 May 2021