Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Ireland

Now that citizens of the EU can claim the cost of health care in any EU country (see this article for more details) we are turning our attention to our closest neighbour: Ireland. The founders of Castle Craig Hospital, Peter and Margaret Ann McCann, have strong connections with Ireland and are keen to welcome Irish patients.

Health care in Ireland, (including addiction recovery services) is two-tier i.e. public and private sectors. Since the onset of the global financial crisis both sectors are experiencing enormous financial pressures, including addiction treatment services. By the end of 2014 the Irish health budget will have been cut by €4 billion.

Our first Irish partner, Paddy Creedon described the situation in Ireland with regards to addiction treatment:

“We currently spend £12 billion a year on the health services. But alcohol cost the economy £2.65 billion in 2003 and almost 50 per cent of that is borne by companies in terms of lost productivity. Almost one in three admissions to accident and emergency rooms are alcohol-related and we spend more than £6 billion a year on alcohol in this country. That is about £2000 for every person over 15.”

Alcohol abuse is a big problem in Ireland and Creedon estimates that over 2,000 hospital beds are occupied every night as a result of alcohol related harm.

“Long overdue changes to the law on alcohol sale and distribution are imminent,” says Creedon, “but the legislative proposals have run into strong opposition from the alcohol industry. One staggering fact is that alcohol related harm costs the state £3.7 billion a year, with the health care system alone spending £1 billion on alcohol related care.”

Treatment facilities in Ireland have been badly hit by the government’s austerity programme, resulting in a stark reduction of residential addiction treatment facilities.

“We have a perfect storm,” explains Creedon, “of rapidly increasing demand for detoxification, therapeutic and aftercare programmes and ever reducing facilities.”

Paddy Creedon says The European Union’s Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross Border Healthcare “is a most welcome development. It should prove a breakthrough for many alcoholics and drug addicts who will be able to get the treatment they need in other EU Member States.”

The EU law came into force on 23rd October 2013 when Tonio Borg, the EU Health Commissioner, said: “As of today, EU law in force enshrines citizens’ right to go to another EU country for treatment and get reimbursed for it…For patients to benefit from the rights granted by EU law, the law needs to be properly transposed and enforced. I urge all Member States to deliver on their obligations and fully transpose this Directive.”

Creedon says the Irish government have been slow to adopt this important new EU law, but “they are currently working on passing it through government and I expect the EU Directive to be passed into Irish law by April 2014. Then we will see Irish patients going abroad for treatment.”

Paddy Creedon represents Castle Craig in Ireland and can be contacted in relation to the cross-border initiative or any queries regarding admissions. His phone number is 087 2532011 and his email address is paddy@creedonandcreedon.com

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