Press Release

Health Statistics 2005

Health Statistics 2005 brings together statistical information from a wide variety of sources on population, health status and the delivery of health services. It provides a broad overview of health in Ireland as well as serving as a resource and reference for those interested in particular aspects of health and the health services. This report is now available to download here. The health statistics report is printed in a three-yearly cycle. Publication of hard copy reports requires considerable time for completion, validation and proofing. In the case of Health Statistics 2005, the restructuring of the health services has added to these time requirements. Updated tables across key areas of the report will be made available on the Department’s website.

The report’s format continues to reflect a shift in emphasis from illness to a more positive concept of health seen in terms of the broader determinants of health and reflecting a population-based approach. Data are presented for a number of years where available and the inclusion of comparative data from other EU countries is also a feature of the report. A number of key facts and trends are highlighted below and referenced with page and figure numbers:

  • Preliminary population figures from the 2006 census show a total population figure of over 4.2 million – an increase of 318,000 since 2002 (table A2, p. 20). This is the highest recorded census level since 1861.
  • Population projections for the period 2006 to 2036 show a continuing increase particularly in the elderly age groups where numbers over the age of 65 will double over the next 20 years (figure 13, p. 33).
  • Life expectancy for both males and females continues to rise showing gains of more than ten years during the past 50 years (table B1, p.38 and figure 1, p. 39). Females can expect to live approximately 5.2 years longer than males though the gap is slowly closing (figure 1, p. 39). Ireland continues to remain below the average for the EU15 and just at the level of the EU25 (figure 3, p. 41), but falling mortality rates in recent years are likely to see Ireland improve its position significantly.
  • Birth numbers have been increasing since the mid-1990s (table B3, p. 42). Ireland retains its long-standing position of having the highest birth and fertility rates within the EU15 (figures 12 and 15, pp. 48 and 50).
  • Cancer was the cause of more than 1 in 4 deaths in 2003 (figure 16, p. 52). However, the general trend in age-standardised death rates from all cancers shows a decrease (figure 19, p. 53).
  • Mortality rates for circulatory system diseases are less than half what they were 20 years ago (table B7, p.51 and figure 17, p. 52). Ireland has the second lowest death rate for stroke, after France, in the EU15 (table B9, p.57).
  • World Health Organisation figures for smoking related causes of death among EU countries show Ireland with the highest combined mortality for these conditions (table B11 and figure 29, p. 62). The smoking ban pioneered by Ireland and introduced in 2004 addresses this major health issue, but it is too soon to assess the expected positive effects of its implementation.
  • Infant, neonatal and perinatal mortality rates in Ireland continue to show a downward trend (figure 31, p. 65). While the rates continue to improve Ireland still falls short of the EU average (table B14, p. 66).
  • HIV/AIDS incidence in Ireland is third lowest in the EU (figure 7, p. 78). While incidence of AIDS has remained at a similar level since 1999, deaths have fallen significantly over the period reflecting improved treatment and survival (table C8 and figure 6, p. 77).
  • Alcohol consumption is continuing to increase (table C25, p. 104). Ireland had the 2nd highest consumption of alcohol in the EU in 2001 (table C26, p. 105 and figure 27, p. 106).
  • Psychiatric inpatient numbers fell from 6,657 in 1993 to 3,658 in 2003 (figure 1, p. 140). This reflects the continuation of a long term trend away from inpatient care and towards the development of more appropriate community psychiatric services and facilities.
  • Acute hospital activity:- There are over 500,000 in-patients discharged from acute hospitals each year (tables H1A-H1C pp. 183-184). Day cases have risen by 91,000 between 2001 and 2003 (tables H1A-H1C, pp. 183–184). More recent figures yet to be published indicate a further increase of more than 60,000 in the number of day cases in 2005. Over 50% of in-patient and day case activity is carried out as day cases in the major teaching hospitals. This is an internationally recognised measure of hospital effectiveness. A&E attendances remain fairly constant at 1.2 million per year – over 3,300 per day (tables H2A-H2C, pp. 186-191). Average length of stay in acute hospitals for all age groups has levelled off over the last number of years with reductions over the levels prevalent in the 1980s (figure 4, p. 221). The biggest reduction has been in the 75+ age group where the average length of stay has been reduced by over 7 days since 1983.
  • Health service employment:- Total employment in the public health service has increased by 9% from 2001 to 2004 (tables K1A-K1D, pp. 257-258). Consultant and non-consultant hospital doctor numbers have risen over the same period by 17% and 13% respectively (figure 2, p. 261 and table K6, p. 262).
  • Estimated health expenditure as a % of GNP which stood at 7.81 in 2004 is .06 below the 2003 figure but considerably higher than figures for earlier years (table L3, p. 274).