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Soc Sci Med. 2015 Jan;124:346-55. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.04.013. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Transnational healthcare practices of Romanian migrants in Ireland: inequalities of access and the privatisation of healthcare services in Europe.

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School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland. Electronic address:


This article deals with the transnational healthcare practices of Central and Eastern European migrants in Europe, taking the case of Romanian migrants in Ireland. It explores the implications of migrants' transnational healthcare practices for the transformation of citizenship in Europe, more particularly in terms of access to free public healthcare. The article places these practices in the larger perspective of global care chains, seen as including transnational flows of healthcare seekers and healthcare workers that link distant healthcare systems in an emerging European healthcare assemblage. The study adopted a holistic perspective, taking into account both formal and informal practices, as well as the use of healthcare services in both the host and the origin countries of migrants. These were explored during multi-sited fieldwork in Romania and Ireland, conducted between 2012 and 2013, and combining a variety of sources and methods (semi-structured interviews, informal conversations, documentary analysis, etc.). The article explores the links between migrants' transnational healthcare practices and two other important processes: 1) inequalities in access to healthcare services in migrants' countries of origin and of destination; and 2) the contribution of healthcare privatisation to these inequalities. It shows that Romanian migrants' transnational healthcare practices function as strategies of social mobility for migrants, while also reflecting the increasing privatisation of healthcare services in Ireland and Romania. The article argues that these processes are far from specific to Ireland, Romania, and the migration flows uniting them. Rather, they draw our attention to the rise of an unevenly developed European healthcare assemblage and citizenship regime in which patients' movements across borders are closely interlinked with diminishing and increasingly unequal access to public healthcare services.


East–West migration; European Union; Healthcare privatisation; Ireland; Romania; Social inequalities; Transnational healthcare; Uneven development

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