Cross Border Cooperation Health in Ireland

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Providing healthcare services commands the largest allocation of public
funding on both sides of the Irish border and concerns over the efficiency and
effectiveness of these systems are perennial. Over the past two decades health
has been identified as a key area for cross-border collaboration. However, in
the absence of an overarching framework or strategy, there is little clarity
about objectives. Using the responses to the Covid-19 pandemic as a case
study it demonstrates that even in the face of an existential crisis, political
leaders default to debates over culture and identity. The paper sets out how
the healthcare systems in the two jurisdictions share similar core principles
and values and face similar social, economic and political pressures. They have adopted broadly comparable approaches to tackling systemic issues,
such as an ageing and growing population, evolving healthcare needs, workforce planning and financial pressures. It argues that there is potential for
greater cross-border cooperation but this requires high-level political agreement and must be based on robust evidence. As this paper shows, there are significant barriers to developing all-island approaches, but these are not
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-136
Number of pages20
JournalIrish Studies in International Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2021


  • cross border
  • health
  • ireland


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