Public acute hospitals are going to require thousands more staff in the coming years if they are to keep up with expected demographic changes, new ESRI research has found.
According to the findings, Ireland’s population is projected to increase to 5.4 million people by 2035, which would be an increase of 500,000 people since 2019. The number of people aged 85 years and older is projected to more than double.
As a result, workforce requirements for all staff categories are projected to increase substantially by 2035, with the largest increases projected for health and social care professionals who are particularly required by older people.
The largest increases in workforce requirements are expected in the east part of the country.
The ESRI research projects that by 2035:
-Between 2,575 and 3,236 whole time equivalent (WTE) medical staff will be required nationally, representing an increase of between 1.7 and 2.1% on average per annum
-Between 5,726 and 8,868 WTE nursing and midwifery staff will be required, representing an increase of between 1.4 and 2.1% on average per annum
-Between 1,802 and 3,277 WTE healthcare assistants and health and social care assistants will be required, representing an increase of between 1.7 and 2.9% on average per annum.
Meanwhile, health and social care professions are higher in terms of overall growth rate relative to other workforce categories examined. Most notably, highest per annum growth is projected for occupational therapists (2.7–3.3%) and speech and language therapists (2.3–3.3%).
According to the ESRI, this report “highlights that population growth and ageing will be key drivers of additional workforce requirements for the public acute hospital staff categories examined”.
However, it also considers how changes to the workforce mix, waiting lists and community care delivery may also impact acute hospital workforce requirements over the medium term.
“Findings show that expansion of public acute hospital workforce will be required across all regions and all staff categories examined in this report. In the context of ongoing Sláintecare implementation, policymakers will need to consider how workforce supply can be increased to meet these demand pressures,” noted ESRI senior researcher and lead author, Dr Conor Keegan.
Commenting on the findings, the HSE’s National Director of Human Resources, Anne Marie Hoey, said that they raise “important considerations in terms of acute workforce investment, workforce planning and training over the coming years”.
The report on the findings can be viewed on the ESRI website.