How Does Ireland’s Health System Compare With OECD Countries?

The 2015 edition of Health at a Glance-OECD Indicators presents the most recent comparable data on key indicators of health and health systems across the 34 OECD member countries. The data mainly refers to 2013.

How Does Ireland Compare on Key Measures?


The structure of the population has a big influence on health status and spending as older people typically require more health care.
Ireland’s population is relatively young:

• Population Over 65: Ireland 12.6%; OECD average 16.2%
• Population Over 80: Ireland 3%; OECD average 4%

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy at birth has increased in recent decades in all OECD countries by about 10 years since 1970.

Latest figures for Ireland 81.1 years; OECD average 80.4 years

Perceived Health Status

Indicators of perceived general health have been found to be a good predictor of people’s future health care use and mortality.

On this measure of self-reported good health, Ireland has the healthiest population in Europe and surprisingly the third healthiest population in Europe over 65.

• Self-Reported Good Health; Ireland 82% (Best in Europe); OECD average 69%
• Self-Reported Good Health over 65; Ireland 61.3%; OECD Average 43.4 (We are no. 3 in Europe behind Sweden and Switzerland).

However, there are some causes for concern:

• Adult Obesity: Ireland 23 %; OECD average 19 %
• Child Obesity Boys Ireland1 14 %; OECD Average 24.3%
• Child Obesity Girls Ireland 21 %; OECD Average 22.1 %• Alcohol Consumption by Adults; Ireland 10.6 litres per adult; OECD average 8.8 litres
• % of Adult Population Smoking Daily: Ireland 19.0%; OCED average 19.7 %

Generic Share of Drugs Market

Ireland still has a low share of generic supply of prescription drugs which increases costs.

• Ireland 16% (by value): OECD average 24% (by value)
• Ireland 29% (by volume); OECD average 48% (by volume)

Health Spending

Total Health spending (public & private) per head in US$ ppp:

• Ireland $3,663 (no 16 out of 34 countries); OECD average $3,453
• Drug spending Ireland $652; OECD average $ 515

Other Data

Average Length of Stay in Hospital:

• Ireland 6.0 (down from 7.4 in 2000); OECD average 8.1

Doctor Consultations per head of population:

• Ireland 3.8; OECD average 6.6

Hospital Beds per 1000 Population

• Ireland 2.8; OECD Average 4.8

Hospital Discharges per 1000 Population Ireland2 135; OECD Average 155

Health Workforce

Practicing Doctors per 1000 Population; Ireland 2.8; OECD Average (25 countries) 4.8

Practicing Nurses per 1000 Population; Ireland3 12.4; OECD Average 9.1


1 At age 7

2 Excludes discharges of healthy babies born in hospital

3 Data includes nurses working in the health sector as managers, educators and researchers

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