Key points for selected healthcare occupations
- In 2015, there were approximately 103,000 persons employed in healthcare occupations, representing 5.3% of Ireland’s workforce.
- Almost 90% of overall employment was at professional level (approximately 91,000 persons).
- There were 55,000 employed nurses and midwives, accounting for half of overall employment in healthcare occupations; this was the largest professional workforce nationally and the fourth largest nationally, after sales assistants, farmers, care workers (home and other).
- Between 2014 and 2015, overall employment expanded by 1%, below the national average rate of 2.6%; employment levels remainded relatively static for most occupations.
- 80% of those employed in healthcare occupations were aged 25-54; 20% of other healthcare professionals in employment were 55 years or older; the share of mature workers was almost 20% for both medical practitioners and nurses and midwives.
- Over 90% of employed healthcare professionals had attained third level qualifications; the share was just over 70% for associate professionals.
- While most persons employed in healthcare occupations were female, employment of medical practitioners was gender balanced.
- Physiotherapists had the highest share of persons in healthcare occupations working part-time, at just over one third.
- 25% of employed medical practitioners were non-Irish nationals, above the national average share of 15%.
Despite the recent removal of the recruitment ban in publicly funded healthcare, lower than average growth in employment is expected in publicly funded services, including health in light of the requirements for further fiscal consolidation. Employment growth is expected to be a fraction of the total recruitment requirement which will mostly be driven by the replacement demand. Exits to inactivity are estimated at 1,900 for nurses and 1,500 for other healthcare professionals and associate professionals. As a result, the total annual recruitment requirement for healthcare professionals and associate professionals is estimated at over 4,000 annually, just over half of which is for nurses.
Previously imposed recruitment controls in relation to permanent employment contracts in the publicly funded healthcare sector resulted in frequent movements of doctors and nurses between employers, which were still visible in 2015: 2,000 intra-occupational transitions were identified for medical practitioners and 4,000 for nurses.
The removal of the recruitment ban should result in less intra occupational movement (excluding standard hospital rotations during training). Ireland, as is the case with most developed countries, suffers from an acute shortage of doctors.
The number of unemployed qualified healthcare workers is negligible while reliance on importing healthcare skills has been an important part of HR practices: in 2015, over 1,500 employment permits were issued to non-EEA doctors and a further 282 to nurses/midwives.
Shortages continue to persist for the following occupations:
- Medical practitioners (especially locum and non-consultant hospital doctors, registrars and medical specialists (e.g. general and emergency medicine, anaesthetists, paediatricians, consultant radiologists))
- Nurses – advanced nursing practitioners (e.g. intensive care, operation theatre, theatre nurse managers), registered nurses (e.g. general nurse, cardiovascular care, elder persons’ care, children’s care; intellectual disability care, mental health care) and clinical nurses
- Radiographers (clinical specialists; MRI and CT radiographers)
- Niche area specialists (radiation therapists, audiologists, prosthetists, orthotists, cardio-technician)
- Health service managers;
- Nursing home directors.