Short trip across the Border and Tom was firmly back on course
Pensioner Tom O'Riordan, who faced a delay of at least a year before getting a desperately needed hip operation in his local hospital, was able to arrange to have the surgery within weeks by travelling to Northern Ireland.
Mr O'Riordan (68), from Newbridge, Co Kildare, is one of the many grateful hospital waiting-list patients in the Republic who availed of the EU cross-border treatment scheme to get the life-changing surgery this year.
He attended Kingsbridge Hospital in Belfast, just a few hours' train journey from his home.
"I was suffering pain and my hip was so bad some days my wife Irene had to help me down the stairs," he told the Irish Independent.
The ultimate sacrifice came when he had to give up his beloved golf and drop his membership of Newbridge Golf Course.
"I was listening to the radio one day and heard about the scheme. An elderly woman was selling possessions in her home to have treatment and said it would be reimbursed."
Under the scheme the patient pays the fee upfront, but the HSE refunds the cost so the patient is not out of pocket.
"I have a very good family and was able to find the €10,000. I will never forget June 24, the day I went to Kingsbridge Hospital for the surgery.
"I was admitted on the Monday and home by Wednesday afternoon. My wife is a nurse so I have got the best of care.
"I received advice from two physiotherapists in Kingsbridge and the surgeon before leaving and have followed it."
Within around five weeks he was up and mobile, enjoying the freedom his new hip brought him.
"The advice from the doctors was to start with pitch and putt rather than going straight back to golf.
"But I am looking forward to doing some rounds on the course with my friends."
He said the convenience of being able to go to Northern Ireland for the surgery rather than abroad made all the difference.
"It would be a shame if people had to go to mainland Europe.
"You are into problems with language and it would make it more difficult."