Northern Ireland news

Kerry and Cork patients coming to Belfast for operations due to Republic's 'ridiculous' waiting lists

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae is organising buses for Co Kerry patients to travel to Belfast for surgery

BUS-LOADS of patients from Co Kerry are booking to come north of the border for hip replacements due to the Republic's equally bad waiting lists.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said he was organising the trips for his constituents to travel to private hospitals in Belfast as part of the EU cross-border reimbursement scheme.

Last month, a group of 10 patients made the 20-hour round trip for their Kerry homes to a private Belfast clinic for a consultation, getting up at 4.30am and returning late that night. They were given a date for surgery within eight weeks.

Like their northern counterparts, southern orthopaedic patients are enduring four-year delays for routine operations.

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"People in other counties should think about running buses too," Mr Healy-Rae told Journal.ie.

"It's ridiculous that we should have to do this."

Pensioners from Co Cork are also travelling north and availing of the EU scheme to have cataract surgery.

Anna Logan (78) from Bishopstown in Cork told The Irish News how she went to her credit union for a loan after losing her sight in her right eye – and learning she faced a four-year wait for a cataract procedure.

"It cost me £1,290 to be treated in Belfast in June. I was only there for a few hours on a Sunday morning and I now have my sight back. I used my train pass to travel up and stayed with my sister-in-law," she said.

"I am still waiting to be reimbursed but it was well worth it. I have my quality of life back."

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