Treatment Abroad: An investigation by the Ombudsman into the administration of the Treatment Abroad Scheme by the Health Service Executive (HSE)

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Executive Summary


Public sector bodies must embody certain essential values. These include clarity of information; openness; transparency; respect; dignity; helpfulness; fair process and the right of appeal.

Best practice in public administration demands that for every public services scheme, there should be access to sufficient information and explanatory documentation so that applicants can easily understand –

(i) how the scheme works;

(ii) their entitlements under the scheme;

(iii) the conditions governing their entitlement;

(iv) the application process, and

(v) how to seek an independent appeal / review should their application be refused.


It is also a principle of best practice for public services providers to ensure that their administrative systems for accepting and processing applications are –

(i) clear and simple;

(ii) easily accessed;

(iii) operated in a helpful and timely manner;

(iv) free from barrier and bias;

(v) transparent, and

(vi) fair


This investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman-

(i) looks at the qualifying conditions for the Treatment Abroad Scheme;

(ii) examines the application process including the assessment of applications;

(iii) examines the appeals process and

(iv) reveals examples where unnecessary difficulties and delays were experienced by patients, because of an inappropriate administrative structure for processing funding applications.

The names of patients who complained to the Ombudsman about their experiences have been changed to protect their identity.