Over the past two decades health has been identified as a key area for increased cross-border working on the island of Ireland. To date though, the approach has been minimalist and often project specific. The global pandemic, the continuing fallout from Brexit and the establishment of the Shared Island initiative have pushed the broad issue of healthcare cooperation up the policy agenda. Theoretically, closer cooperation could deliver economies of scale, value for money, opportunities for clinical specialisation, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge. However, despite its obvious potential and policy significance, cross-border collaboration in healthcare has been the subject of remarkably little research attention. This small-scale qualitative study is based on in-depth interviews with 49 individuals with expertise and experience in this area. From these interviews six broad themes emerged: support for collaboration, lack of strategic direction, knowledge sharing, Covid-19, data and opportunities for future cooperation. Given the similar social, economic and political pressures faced by both healthcare systems, it is concluded that leveraging the strengths from cross-border collaboration should be a policy priority.
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