Ireland has 50% more nurses than OECD average

Number of acute care hospital beds in Ireland well below OECD average

Ireland has 50 per cent more nurses per head of population than the OECD average, according to new figures.

In 2010, Ireland had an average of 13.1 nurses per 1,000 of the population; the OECD average is 8.7 per 1,000.

However, the number of acute care hospital beds in Ireland at 2.3 per 1,000 is well below the OECD average of 3.4 beds per 1,000.

The public private mix of hospital beds in Ireland is "not typical", according to the OECD Health Data for Ireland published last week.

Recession impact
It noted the impact that the recession has had is not just on total health spending but on spending as a percentage of GDP.


Public spending on health decreased dramatically from a peak of 75.5 per cent in 2007 to 69.6 per cent just two years later.

The OECD attributed these figures to the burden for healthcare costs being passed on to the individual through increases in the share of direct payments for prescribed medicines and appliances.

Health spending in Ireland in 2010 was 9.2 per cent of GDP, slightly less than the OECD average of 9.5 per cent.

As ever, the US was the outlier, spending a colossal 17.6 per cent of GDP on health, followed by the Netherlands at 12 per cent.

Insurance model
The Netherlands introduced a managed private insurance model in 2006 which was touted by Fine Gael before the general election as a possible model for Ireland to follow.

Health spending peaked at 9.9 per cent of GDP in 2009. Ireland’s average spend of $3,718 (€2,862.52) was well above the OECD average of $3,268 (€2,516.07).

However, with a further series of cuts in successive budgets, the share of spending on health will have decreased further.

Ireland has only 15.6 CT scanners per million of population, fewer than the OECD average of 22.1.

With 12.5 MRI units per million population in 2010, Ireland had the same number as the OECD average.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times