Beneficiaries of International Protection are entitled to the same medical care as Irish citizens in accordance with Section 53(b) IPA. Access to health care for asylum seekers is also on the same basis as Irish citizens and they eligible for medical cards subject to a means test and can register with local GPs. They have access to the Public Health Nursing System as well as dedicated asylum seeker psychological service operating out of St. Brendan’s Hospital in Dublin. However, a report by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in June 2016 noted problems as regards access to health by way of a number of linguistic, cultural and financial barriers such as inconsistent availability of interpreters and translation services across the health service.1 Furthermore, the report highlighted that where asylum seekers are moved from one direct provision or EROC centre to another, continuity of care with existing healthcare providers may be disrupted or lost.
Specialised treatment for torture survivors is mainly provided by SPIRASI which receives some funding from the Health Service Executive. However, its resources are limited and therefore the need for such specialised services outweighs the resources and capacity available though it is difficult to find quantifiable data on this. The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland reported “While voluntary organisations such as SPIRASI may provide these services in urban centres, there is no access to many others. Mainstream mental health services, already overburdened and under-resourced in caring for the general population, may not have the cultural or linguistic expertise to effectively deal with the mental health problems experienced by refugees and asylum seekers, and do not have adequate resources to liaise with the agencies responsible for asylum seekers.”
- 1. Royal College of Physicians, Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Migrant Health- the Health of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Relocated Individuals, A position paper, June 2016.