Cross-Border Health Matters In Focus

Lost opportunities for cross-border cooperation on health could be putting lives at risk, a leading researcher from the Centre for Cross Border Studies said today.

Following the launch of INICCO – a major research and development initiative commissioned by the EU's INTERREG IVA programme – the lead researcher, Dr Patricia Clarke, (pictured) said that with a funding crunch looming, a joined up approach to health and a collaboration of resources should be a priority. Providing services for a combined 6.5 million people across the island, the health sector commands the largest allocation of public funding on both sides of the border, with current annual budgets of €16.2billion in the South and £4.8bn north of the Irish border.

Dr Clarke said better cooperation on the island of Ireland would increase patient care and improve health care efficiency.

"There is clear evidence that increased collaboration can reduce wastage and deliver a significant improvement to the provision of health care across the island of Ireland. Patients stand to benefit from the exchange of expertise, better access to acute services as well as reduced response times for emergencies, particularly those in border areas," she said.

"Combining resources, experiences and best practice to tackle key issues makes financial sense and will be to the ultimate benefit of all citizens on the island of Ireland," she continued, noting that a combination of five projects being undertaken by the Centre for Cross Border Studies - the three-year INICCO programme - will deliver a feasibility study of planning hospital services in the Irish border region on a cross-border basis.

"This is a timely research initiative designed to identify how cross-border hospital services can provide mutual benefits for the people of the border region and beyond," Dr Clarke said.

"Too often hospital planning is focused on bureaucratic and financial objectives rather than the needs of patients.

"This research will help identity key issues of concern for future policy consideration while developing a modelling tool for hospital planning on a border region and all-island basis."

The research builds on an initial Centre for Cross Border study which examined the criteria adopted within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for hospital reconfiguration and concluded that there was clear scope for joint hospital planning and rationalisation exercises in the Irish border region.


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