Recent figures have shown that 21,399 people are on outpatient waiting lists in the Midland Regional Hospitals at Mullingar, Tullamore, and Portlaoise.
Speaking about these figures Marian Harkin MEP suggested that some of those people might be able to take advantage of a new piece of EU legislation - the Cross Border Healthcare Directive.
She said the situation was “unacceptable for all those people in need of treatment”.
“The Directive has been transposed into Irish law from June 1, 2014 and it provides an opportunity for patients who need treatment and are waiting for an unreasonable length of time, to access treatment abroad - maybe in Northern Ireland or the UK under certain conditions.
“I am well aware that the vast majority of people want treatment as close to home as possible but at least this new regulation may give people a choice,” she added.
The HSE is obliged to provide information to patients about their rights in relation to accessing cross border healthcare, but in general patients can go from Ireland to another Member State for treatment and get reimbursed for it, provided: the cost is not greater than it would be in Ireland; the procedure is medically justified and is not available within a reasonable period of time; and the treatment is available in Ireland and the patient would be entitled to the treatment in Ireland in the first place.