Number of consultant and non-consultant hospital doctors has risen 60% since 2013

Public capital health expenditure increased by 251% over last decade, according to department report

The number of consultant and non-consultant hospital doctors working in Ireland has increased by nearly 60 per cent since 2013, according to the latest national health trends report.

The Department of Health report reveals there were 11,884 consultant and non-consultant hospital doctors employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2022, compared to 7,563 in 2013.

The number of HSE-employed nurses and midwives increased by 28 per cent during the same time period, rising from 34,178 in 2013 to 43,619 in 2022. A total of 137,745 people are currently employed by the HSE

This rise in healthcare workers led to a €6.8 billion increase in spending between 2019 and 2022, according to the report. Before the pandemic, health expenditure increased by a third between 2012 and 2019, it notes.


Ireland currently ranks 12th among 29 OECD countries regarding the number of practising doctors per 1,000 of the population, with Austria top of the list followed by Norway, Germany and Spain.

The report acknowledges that the effects of the pandemic “continue to be significant” and that there were “consistently over 60,000 adults waiting 12 months or less on an inpatient waiting list” at the end of 2022.

In September 2023 there were 73,487 adults on an inpatient waiting lists, up from 71,866 in September 2022. The number of children on an inpatient list also increased from 7,497 to 9,701 during the same time period.

The number of people waiting 52 weeks or longer for an outpatient appointment dropped from about 220,000 in January 2022 to 120,000 in September 2023.

Public capital health expenditure has increased by 251 per cent since 2013, while non-capital health expenditure rose by 7.6 per cent between 2021 and 2022, notes the report. Capital expenditure was 16 per cent higher in 2022 than in 2021, it adds.

Ireland’s total current health spending as a percentage of GDP/GNI ranks sixth among OECD countries, with the United States topping the list, followed by Germany, the UK, Canada and France.

The report notes that Ireland had the highest self-perceived health status in the EU in 2022, with 80 per cent of people rating their health as good or very good. However, it acknowledges that people’s health status reflects income inequality, with fewer low-income earns reporting good health.

Mortality rates for all causes have fallen by 10 per cent over the past decade, including a 26 per cent drop in deaths from suicide; 52 per cent drop from deaths in transport incidents; 41 per cent drop in pneumonia-related deaths and 40 per cent drop in stroke-related deaths.

Infant mortality dropped by 8.5 per cent since 2012, but increased again by 14 per cent between 2019 and 2021.

Ireland also ranked second highest for “healthy-life years over 65″ among the EU27, coming behind Sweden.

Life expectancy in Ireland is currently 84 years for women and 81 years for men. However, the number of years that people spend in “good health” after they turn 65 reduced by a year between 2019 and 2021.

While the State’s birth rate remains higher than many other European countries, the Irish population under 15 is projected to fall by 13 per cent over the next 20 years. Meanwhile, the number of over-65s is set to increase by 66 per cent and the number of over 85s is due to double during the same time period.

Ireland currently has the fourth highest fertility rate in the EU behind France, Czechia and Romania, but live births in 2020 were the lowest in a decade.

The Irish population has grown by 2.6 per cent to 5.15 million since the 2022 census and is projected to reach 5.81 million by 2043.

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Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast