“Reports that the Minister for Health, and the Department of Health, are not prepared for the ramifications of Brexit is deeply concerning,” said the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD.

“There are numerous, vitally important services that rely on strong relationships with health authorities in the United Kingdom that are underpinned by its membership of the European Union.”

“While of course similar arrangements can be made with our colleagues in other EU member states, such as France and Germany, the fact is patients will be put out by this.”

“Border communities will be severely adversely affected by this. Many access services, such as radiotherapy, in Northern Ireland, as it’s much quicker than waiting for an appointment with the HSE.”

“Life saving treatments and procedures, such as those provided by Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, are at risk here. Ensuring that Irish patients don’t lose out requires an immediate and swift response.”

“The responsibility lies with Minister Harris, and his officials in the Department of Health. Most of our bilateral agreements are based on EU regulations.”

“The Minister must ensure that contingency plans are put in place, and must raise this issue with his European counterparts, and ensure that they are aware of the challenges the Irish health system will face when the UK leaves the European Union.”

“It will always be easier to access services in Northern Ireland, or in Great Britain than travelling to continental Europe.”

“The fact that English is not the main language of communication in mainland Europe will be a worry to patients if they are forced to travel for procedures as a result of the Cross border Healthcare Scheme or the Treatment Abroad Scheme being terminated.”

“There can be no gap in services and access. A contingency plan must be put in place immediately,” concluded Kelleher.