A “substantial” increase in spending on primary, community, and long-term health and social care is needed, as costs rise and the population grows and ages, new research has found.
It found that the cost of delivering care, particularly pay-related costs, is the main driver of expenditure growth for health and social care services.
New research from the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) projects expenditure for most primary, community, and long-term health and social care services in Ireland from 2019 to 2035.
The projections take into account new ESRI population and macroeconomic projections that incorporate the expected impact of Covid-19.
Expenditure projections incorporate a range of scenarios for changes in demographics, healthy ageing, policy measures, and costs.
It found that the largest increases in expenditure are projected to be for high-tech medicines delivered in the community, long-term residential care and home support services.
It projected nominal expenditure requirements for public and private general practice of between €1.6 billion and €2 billion in 2035.
This implies a 2.9 per cent to 4.5 per cent average annual expenditure increase.
The research also found that the expenditure requirements for high-tech medicines will be between €2.3 billion and €4.4 billion in 2035.
This implies a 6.1 per cent to 10.5 per cent average annual increase and reflects the growth in demand for high-tech medicines.
Public and private long-term residential care costs are expected to rise to between €3.8 billion and €5.7 billion in 2035.
The research found that population ageing is the key driver of projected expenditure increases for this service.
Costs of public and private home support will be between €1.2 billion and €3.0 billion in 2035.
Likely increases in demand following the establishment of a statutory home support scheme is the key driver of projected expenditure growth.
Due to a combination of a growing and ageing population and increasing costs of care delivery, particularly relating to pay, expenditure on non-hospital health and social care is projected to increase substantially by 2035, the research found.
The report stated: “The findings provide an evidence base for workforce and capacity planning and for the implementation of important Slaintecare proposals.
“Identifying approaches to address the projected increases in the cost of care delivery should be an important consideration for policymakers.
“Policymakers should prioritise development of a health data infrastructure that caters for the requirements of both local and national-level service planners.”
One of the authors of the report, Brendan Walsh, said: “This report highlights that substantial investment in primary, community and long-term healthcare will be required in the coming years.
“The results provide policymakers with evidence on what funding pressures are likely to arise in different parts of the system.
“We find that continuing current trends will lead to expenditure growth on high-tech medicines and long-term residential care that far exceeds that of general practice and home support in the medium term.
“This information should help policymakers frame decisions about what parts of the system should be prioritised for investment and where to focus policies to contain cost pressures.”