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 protection applicants is also on the same basis as Irish citizens and they are 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 services operating out of St. Brendan’s Hospital in Dublin. However, a report by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in December 2019 noted problems as regards access to health by way of a number of cultural and financial barriers such as language, transport and medication costs. Furthermore, the report highlighted that primary care providers have raised concerns over services receiving little attention and no additional resources and being expected to absorb large numbers of migrants.
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 94% of international protection applicants have experienced traumatic events prior to arriving in Ireland, with 32-53% reporting torture. This is on par with international studies which estimate a torture prevalence of 30-84% among protection applicants. Despite this, SPIRASI, Ireland’s national treatment centre for survivors of torture, reports that only 6% of all protection applicants are referred for treatment.