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How many beds? Capacity implications of hospital care demand projections in the Irish hospital system, 2015‐2030

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  • Conor Keegan
  • Aoife Brick
  • Brendan Walsh
  • Adele Bergin
  • James Eighan
  • Maev‐Ann Wren

Abstract

Existing Irish hospital bed capacity is low by international standards while Ireland also reports the highest inpatient bed occupancy rate across OECD countries. Moreover, strong projected population growth and ageing is expected to increase demand for hospital care substantially by 2030. Reform proposals have suggested that increased investment and access to nonacute care may mitigate some increased demand for hospital care over the next number of years, and it is in this context that the Irish government has committed to increase the supply of public hospital beds by 2600 by 2027. Incorporating assumptions on the rebalancing of care to nonhospital settings, this paper analyses the capacity implications of projected demand for hospital care in Ireland to 2030. This analysis employs the HIPPOCRATES macrosimulation projection model of health care demand and expenditure developed in the ESRI to project public and private hospital bed capacity requirements in Ireland to 2030. We examine 6 alternative projection scenarios that vary assumptions related to population growth and ageing, healthy ageing, unmet demand, hospital occupancy, hospital length of stay, and avoidable hospitalisations. We project an increased need for between 4000 and 6300 beds across public and private hospitals (an increase of between 26.1% and 41.1%), of which 3200 to 5600 will be required in public hospitals. These findings suggest that government plans to increase public hospital capacity over the 10 years to 2027 by 2600 may not be sufficient to meet demand requirements to 2030, even when models of care changes are accounted for.

Suggested Citation

  • Conor Keegan & Aoife Brick & Brendan Walsh & Adele Bergin & James Eighan & Maev‐Ann Wren, 2019. "How many beds? Capacity implications of hospital care demand projections in the Irish hospital system, 2015‐2030," International Journal of Health Planning and Management, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(1), pages 569-582, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijhplm:v:34:y:2019:i:1:p:e569-e582
    DOI: 10.1002/hpm.2673
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    1. Jose-Luis Fernandez & J. Forder, 2008. "Consequences of local variations in social care on the performance of the acute health care sector," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(12), pages 1503-1518.
    2. Turner, Brian, 2015. "Unwinding the State subsidisation of private health insurance in Ireland," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(10), pages 1349-1357.
    3. James Gaughan & Hugh Gravelle & Luigi Siciliani, 2014. "Testing the bed-blocking hypothesis: does higher supply of nursing and care homes reduce delayed hospital discharges?," Working Papers 102cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
    4. Brick, Aoife & Nolan, Anne & O'Reilly, Jacqueline & Smith, Samantha, 2010. "Resource Allocation, Financing and Sustainability in the Health Sector," Papers RB2010/3/1, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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    1. Brendan Walsh & Seán Lyons & Samantha Smith & Maev‐Ann Wren & James Eighan & Edgar Morgenroth, 2020. "Does formal home care reduce inpatient length of stay?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(12), pages 1620-1636, December.
    2. Murphy, Aileen & Bourke, Jane & Turner, Brian, 2020. "A two-tiered public-private health system: Who stays in (private) hospitals in Ireland?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(7), pages 765-771.
    3. Brick, Aoife & Keegan, Conor, 2020. "Utilisation of public acute hospital services in Ireland — baseline analysis for the hippocrates model," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number SUSTAT100, December.
    4. Whyte, Richard & Wren, Maev-Ann & Keegan, Conor & Brick, Aoife, 2020. "An analysis of trends in Irish public healthcare expenditure and staffing," Papers WP660, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    5. Walsh, Brendan & Nolan, Anne & Brick, Aoife & Keegan, Conor, 2019. "Did the expansion of free GP care impact demand for Emergency Department attendances? A difference-in-differences analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 222(C), pages 101-111.
    6. Brick, Aoife & Keegan, Conor, 2020. "Paying more to wait less: Estimating the cost of reducing Ireland's public hospital waiting lists," Papers WP688, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Smith, Samantha & Walsh, Brendan & Wren, Maev-Ann & Barron, Steve & Morgenroth, Edgar & Eighan, James & Lyons, Seán, 2019. "Geographic profile of healthcare needs and non-acute healthcare supply in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS90, December.
    8. Walsh, Brendan & Wren, Maev-Ann & Smith, Samantha & Lyons, Seán & Eighan, James & Morgenroth, Edgar, 2019. "An analysis of the effects on Irish hospital care of the supply of care inside and outside the hospital," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS91, December.

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