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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# we're gettin' old
Demand for every kind of health service in Ireland is set to go through the roof in the next 13 years
According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) Ireland’s rapidly growing (and ageing) population will create a huge demand for healthcare by 2030.

shutterstock_331019402 Shutterstock / S_L Shutterstock / S_L / S_L

DEMAND FOR HEALTHCARE and services is set to grow ‘significantly’ in the next 15 years as the country’s growing population ages, new research suggests.

A new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) projects that demand for public and private health and social care services will grow exponentially in Ireland by 2030.

The detail within the report comes from the latest figures from the 2016 Census and represents “the most comprehensive mapping of public and private activity in the Irish healthcare system to have been published”, according to the ESRI itself.

Going by the report, titled Projections of Demand for Healthcare in Ireland, 2015-2030 (the whole report can be read here), Ireland’s population is set to increase by between 640,000 and 1.1 million people in the next decade-and-a-half, while those aged 65 and over will number one in six of the population by 2030.

The number of people aged over 85 will double, and demand for health and social care will jump across the board as a result.

Demand for home help and for places in residential care homes will increase by an enormous 54%, with public hospital demand to likewise increase by between 30% and 37%, while GP visits will increase by 27%.

That’s a lot of stress to place on Ireland’s health regime, a system that isn’t exactly universally-lauded as things stand, with underfunding and chronic waiting lists never far from the headlines at present.

Nor are the ESRI’s projections the only such grim portents circulating at present – recent research suggests that about a fifth of those aged 35 or more in Ireland at present will be physically disabled by the year 2047.

health 428_90526117 Sam Boal / Simon Harris Sam Boal / /

“The additional demand projected in this report for the years to 2030 will give rise to demand for additional expenditure, capital investment and expanded staffing and will have major implications for capacity planning, workforce planning and training,” the institute said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.

Additional investment will be required in most forms of care to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and ageing population.

The worrying predictions for the future of Ireland’s health services include:

  • Inpatient bed days in public hospitals to increase by between 32% and 37% by 2030, up from 3.27 million in 2015
  • Demand for GP visits to increase by between 20% and 27% from the 17.6 million seen in 2015
  • A need for an increase in long-term and intermediate care places in nursing homes of between 40%  and 54%, up from 29,000 in 2015.
  • Demand for home help hours to increase by between 38% and 54%, up from 14.3 million hours in 2015

Health Minister Simon Harris appears to be on board with the ESRI’s projections, saying he has “long been of the view that we need to increase capacity in our health services” in reaction to the publication of the new report.

“I welcome the publication of this report, and the development of the underlying projection model upon which the analysis and findings are based,” he said.

My department’s collaboration with the ESRI, and the work already underway on the bed capacity review, signifies our commitment to integrate relevant, high-quality evidence into the fabric of our planning and decision-making, so that we can create better health and social care services in the years and decades ahead.

Read: Parents urged to vaccinate children after HSE notified of potential measles case in Cork

Read: About a fifth of us aged 35 today will be physically disabled in 30 years

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