AIRO research Project looking at drivetime access to acute health services in the Border region

This project is being developed under the Evidence-Based Planning theme of the Ireland Northern Ireland Cross-border Cooperation Observatory (INICCO-2) CrosSPlaN-2 funded research programme which responds to the need for sustained support to territorial cooperation in the Irish border region.

Following on from work undertaken in INICCO-1 on modelling of hospital services, in INICCO-2 AIRO and the Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS) will work as a partner with Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) to facilitate greater cooperation on acute hospital specialities through developing a new mapping tool that can be used by health service professionals on both sides of the border. As noted elsewhere, this project has been endorsed by the two Departments, but is not part of either Department’s remit.


  • To address an information gap that constrains cross-border cooperation among health service providers  and to facilitate planning of shared acute health services on a border region and all-island basis;
  • To facilitate more efficient use of acute health services in the cross-border region and the island of Ireland by:
  • Development of a tool (geodatabase) that maps acute health specialities
  • Training of health professionals in the use of the mapping tool

How was this project developed:

Working with CAWT, the project team at AIRO developed an inventory of acute speciality services for the cross border area (40km either side of border).  This study area has a total population of 1.3million (556k in RoI and 781k in NI).

At this project was essentially a proof of concept the project team concentrated on 5 main specialities: Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Ophthalmology, Urology, Vascular and Radiotherapy. Each of the services were analysed for In Patient, Out Patient and Day Patient accessibility.  

By mapping the location of all services the project team developed an average drive time score to each type of service from all residential addresses across the study area (550k). Once the underlying analysis was completed it was then possible to map the results and display in an on-line interactive mapping tool.

Initial findings suggest that the provision of services in the border region of Northern Ireland is far better than that in the Republic of Ireland. To complement the visual findings the project team have also developed a demographic dashboard to detail the level of population within specific drive-times of all services.

To view the main mapping tool click View Visualisation and to view the accompanying demographic dashboard click here

You can also download a recent project presentation here

The project is part-financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.