New data from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) estimates that an €11.8 billion funding boost will be required in the primary, community and long-term health services over the coming decade.
In a new report, the think tank ESRI says an increase of between €4.4 billion and almost €12 billion will be required to fund community and long-term health services over the next 14 years.
A number of factors contribute to the projected increases such as population change and ageing. But much of the required investment is attributed to pay-related costs. The ESRI found that the cost of delivering care, particularly pay-related costs, was the main driver of expenditure growth for health and social care services.
The research analysed four services where it estimates the largest cost increases will be in the future such as public and private GP services and public health nursing and community care, high tech-medicines dispensed in the community, long-term residential care and home support services.
Despite primary and community care being at the centre of health and social care in Ireland, the report found that the smallest projected increases in expenditure were seen for general practice, PHN and community therapy services.
It reflects previous research that shows Ireland’s apparent high healthcare expenditure in an international context is likely more related to the high price of healthcare delivery in Ireland rather than the volume of care delivered.
The research states the expenditure on most primary care, community care and long-term care services examined are projected to grow substantially by 2035. The projected growth is particularly evident in community pharmaceuticals and long-term care.
It also finds expenditure growth in high-tech medicines and long-term residential care will far exceed that of general practice and home support in the medium term.
Among its recommendations, the ESRI calls for the prioritisation of the development of a health data infrastructure that caters for the requirements of both local and national-level service planners.
It also suggests the integration of an individual health identifier (IHI) and electronic health record (EHR) would allow for patients to be followed across services and time. This would better help understand the complexity of the patients being treated across a range of services.
Among the services considered, the largest increases in expenditure are projected to be for high-tech medicines dispensed in the community, long-term residential care and home support services.
The head of Fórsa’s Health and Welfare Division, Éamonn Donnelly, said that the report supports the union’s view that massive investment in primary and community healthcare is needed over the next few years.
“It also provides a timely warning on the pressure points that will be soon be seen in the healthcare system which should be prioritised in the next few years,” he said.
Projections in the report clearly back the benefits of researching ways to reduce the trajectory of cost growth in the health service.
“Addressing the projected increases in the unit cost of care delivery should be an essential element of any future policy decisions if there is to be any scope for affordable healthcare in the long-run,” said Éamonn.
The results are outlined in the report ‘Projections of Expenditure for Primary, Community and Long-Term Care in Ireland, 2019-2035,’ which you can read HERE:
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