EU and North South Unit

The HSE’s EU and North South Unit works on behalf of the HSE to promote cooperation with health providers, both north and south, to ensure better outcomes for people living in border areas and beyond.

It contributes to the health and wellbeing of people living in the border region and beyond. It enables better access to health and social care services. It does this through cross-border, all-island and multi-country work.

The unit functions at both a strategic and operational level within the HSE. It works with other agencies and departments on a cross border, all-island, cross-jurisdictional and European wide basis.

Funding opportunities under EU4health

There are significant new funding opportunities for HSE service areas in 2022, as €835 Million will be made available to EU members under the EU4health Programme. The EU4Health Programme is an integral part of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and post-COVID-19 recovery. In terms of key priorities for funding, the 2022 programme is based around five key strands:

  • Crisis preparedness and preventing shortages of medicines
  • Disease prevention, early detection and health promotion
  • Research that supports the fight against cancer and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
  • Reforming and strengthening health systems and the healthcare workforce
  • Health digitalisation

Read more about Funding opportunities under EU4health

Cross-border access to health services

There are several examples of collaborative service agreements benefiting patients.

Radiotherapy services at the North West Cancer Centre

People from both sides of the border are treated at the North West Cancer Centre in Altnagelvin Hospital in Co. Derry. Cancer patients from Donegal have been able to avail of radiotherapy services here since November 2016.

Almost 400 ROI people have received their radiotherapy treatment at Altnagelvin.

Cross-border percutaneous coronary intervention services

The primary percutaneous coronary intervention services began on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week in May 2016. A cross-border service level agreement was agreed and signed by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) and Saolta University Health Care Group (Saolta).

This service has really benefited patients in Co. Donegal who become ill with a suspected heart attack and need procedures such as angiograms or stents inserted. On average, 70 patients from Donegal benefit from this life-saving care every year in Altnagelvin Hospital.

All Island paediatric cardiology services

This island-wide cardiology service is available at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin. It was established under a bilateral Ministerial arrangement.

Milk Bank

The Human Donor Breast Milk Bank collects, processes and stores milk from mothers who have excess milk they wish to donate. 

The HSE purchases human donor breast milk from the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) milk bank based in Enniskillen. This initiative receives donations from across the island of Ireland. 

The essential milk is used for premature and vulnerable babies in neonatal units in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It is estimated that approximately 1,800 litres of donor milk are purchased by the HSE each year.

A national purchasing contract was drawn up between the HSE and the Western Trust in December 2020. This contract was developed with stakeholders from the EU and North South Health Unit, HBS Procurement, Acute Hospitals Division and the HSE National Breastfeeding Unit together with colleagues from the Western Trust.  

Brexit - Services for people in border areas

The HSE EU and North South Unit contribute to the health and wellbeing of people living in the border region and beyond. It enables better access to health and social care services. It does this through cross-border, all-island and multi-country work. It works on behalf of the HSE to promote health co-operation with providers both North and South.

Read HSE Brexit Information.

The European Union (EU) has committed to cross border European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) programmes Interreg VA (2014-2020) and Peace Plus (2021-2027), regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

This funding will be used to continue to promote cross border co-operation in healthcare and reduce health inequalities which often exist in border areas.  

Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT)

Cooperation And Working Together (CAWT) is a partnership between the Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which facilitates cross border collaborative working in health and social care, established for over 25 years.  The HSE supports this partnership with financial and personnel resources on an ongoing basis.

Its primary work is to deliver a large-scale programme of work funded by the EU. These EU-funded Peace and Interreg Programmes have supported cross-border health and social care since the mid-1990s. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) has statutory responsibility for delivering these projects.

CAWT’s vision is to realise opportunities and develop new ways to improve health and social care services for the well-being of people through collaboration across borders and boundaries.

CAWT cross border services and projects

There are five large-scale cross border health and social care projects in the current round of Interreg VA funding. Each project is managed by a project board which includes both HSE and Northern Ireland health services staff. The HSE leads out on four of these.

Here’s a brief description of each of these projects:

  1. Acute hospitals services - provision of additional acute episodes of care through improved/reformed service delivery border basis.
  2. Mental health innovation recovery (i-recovery) - development of cross border recovery colleges to empower people to self-manage their mental health.
  3. Children’s services multiple adverse childhood experiences (Mace) - identifying vulnerable children/families with multiple and complex needs. Provide an early intervention service within the family and community to realise a joined-up responsive solution.
  4. Population on health community health sync (CoH-Sync) - Reducing the burden of chronic disease by empowering people in their own communities to manage their own health needs.
  5. Primary care and older people (mPower) - support for healthy ageing through access to personalised care services and use of e-health. Community support systems help ensure older people can live well, safely and independently in their own homes. Scotland leads out on this service.

CAWT Partner Organisations

Contact Details

EU and North South Unit

Áras Slainte Chluainín


Co. Leitrim

Phone: 071 982 0430