77. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel who receive private health cover as part of their terms and conditions of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18317/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The provision of medical services within the Defence Forces is a combination of primary care, secondary care and an occupational medical service designed to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are medically fit to undertake the duties assigned to them and to treat any medical conditions arising, which would inhibit their capacity to undertake such duties.

Medical Services provided to members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) in-house include, inter alia, an annual occupational medical, primary medical care treatment and the provision of medication prescribed by a doctor, physiotherapy, routine dental treatment and some limited secondary care. The Defence Forces Medical Corps is augmented by civilian medical general practitioners and other specialised medical professionals, where necessary.

The majority of secondary health care for members of the Defence Forces is provided through the public/private health system. There is no charge to members of the Defence Forces for attendance at a public hospital AandE or a stay in a public hospital. Additionally, Commissioned Officers can be referred for out-patient and in-patient treatment through private/semi-private care in civilian hospitals or private consultants’ rooms, where it is deemed necessary by the Defence Forces Medical Officer or the attending doctor subject to financial sanction. There is no cost to the officer for the private/semi private treatment as this forms part of the terms and conditions of their employment in the Defence Forces. As at 28 February 2018 there were 1118 serving Commissioned Officers in the Permanent Defence Force.

Supplementary to this, certain personnel serving overseas to certain missions where Irish military medical facilities may not be readily available or the Mission themselves do not have an organic medical capability, may be provided with health insurance to allow for medical treatment.