Fast-rising population living longer
Number of people over 65 increasing by 20,000 every year
Regarding the State’s hospitals the number of people waiting longer than a year for an out-patient appointment has fallen in the last year.
Life expectancy in Ireland has risen by four years since 2000, the population is rising faster than the EU average, and we continue to have the highest levels of self-perceived health of any EU country.
These facts are provided in a check-up on the health of the nation which was published by the Department of Health yesterday. Health in Ireland: Key Trends 2013 is the sixth edition of the reference guide to trends in health and healthcare.
It notes that our life expectancy has been consistently higher than the EU average throughout the last decade. A baby girl born in 2011 is likely to live until she is 82.8 years, while a boy has a life expectancy of 78.3.
The guide says much of this increase is due to significant reductions in causes of death such as circulatory system diseases.
Our population is now 4,593,100, and the guide notes that the number of people over the age of 65 is increasing by 20,000 every year. It will more than double over the next 30 years, which will have implications for health service planning and delivery.
More than 56 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women over 65 have a chronic illness or condition.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in treatment for problem drug-use has risen by 45 per cent between 2004 and 2012.
Nevertheless, we have the highest levels of self-perceived health of any EU country. Some 83 per cent of males and 82 per cent of females rated their health as being good or very good in 2011. The guide says people with higher levels of education tend to report better health than others.
The impact of the recession on healthcare is clear with increasing numbers of people eligible for a medical card and a reduction in the number of people buying private health insurance. The numbers covered by a medical card have increased by 60 per cent in the past 10 years, with 40 per cent of the population now covered by a medical card.
The study shows the number of consultants employed by the public health service increased by almost 35 per cent between 2004 and 2013, while the number of non-consultant hospital doctors increased by 18 per cent in the same period.
There were 2.7 practising doctors per 1,000 population in Ireland in 2011 – below the OECD average of 3.1.
We are more likely to be treated in hospitals now as day cases rather than inpatients, according to the guide.
Some 60 per cent of hospital discharges were on a day-care basis last year.
The average length of stay in hospital for inpatients is now 5.4 days, the lowest ever. lllllll