ESRI Research Bulletin

Projected private hospital expenditure in Ireland, 2018–2035

ESRI Research Bulletin Articles provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletin Articles are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership. A reference or references to the full publication is included at the start of each Bulletin article.

December 16, 2021
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Private hospitals play an important role in the delivery of hospital care in Ireland. However, to date, not much is understood about how demand for, and expenditure on, private hospital care might change into the future. Particularly, a key proposal under Ireland’s ambitious roadmap to deliver widescale healthcare reform, Sláintecare, is to end hospital consultants’ ability to provide private care in public hospitals. Should this reform take place, private care would then only be available in private hospitals. While private care accounts for just under 20% of in-patient bed days in public hospitals, it is unlikely a large proportion of this care would transfer to private hospitals. Approximately three in every four private in-patient bed days recorded in public hospitals relate to emergency care and comparable provision of emergency care does not exist in private hospitals (and is unlikely to over the medium term). How much private care leaves the public system will also ultimately have implications for capacity available to treat public patients.

This research developed a number of projection scenarios to examine how population change, the cost of delivering private hospital care, and the removal of private practice from public hospitals might impact private hospital expenditure requirements to 2035.