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Between 2012 and 2016, the TAS cost the HSE €45.5 million, including travel expenses, on providing treatment for 3,285 patients. For the first six months of this year, the scheme has cost the HSE €4.5 million for medical treatments and €33,876 for travel expenses.
In 2016, €8.7 million was spent on treatment while €83,525.50 was spent on travel expenses for 661 approved patients under the TAS.
Between January and the end of June 2017, 336 applications were approved by the HSE for the TAS. During this period, 434 visits abroad have been undertaken by approved patients, according to figures released through Freedom of Information legislation.
In the five-and-half-year period from 2012 to mid-2017 a total of 207 applications to avail of the TAS were refused.
The TAS allows consultants based in Ireland to refer a patient that is normally resident in Ireland for treatment in another EU member state or Switzerland, where the treatment in question meets set criteria.
While the HSE would not release detailed information regarding the countries and treatment accessed under the scheme, it did confirm that the most common regions visited were the UK, Germany, Sweden and France.
The most common treatments accessed under the TAS include deep brain stimulation, paediatric organ transplantation, gender reassignment surgery, SAP scans, and bladder exstrophy surgery.
The introduction of the Cross Border Directive (CBD) (in June 2014) has meant some applicants to the TAS are now choosing to access care under the CBD as opposed to TAS, the HSE told MI.
“The usual reason for this is to access the care in the private healthcare sector abroad where they are less likely to be subject to waiting lists.”