Ireland has many attributes on which to build a world-leading health system

Speaking on the publication of the HSE Annual Report, Board Chairperson Ciarán Devane, has said Ireland has many attributes on which to build a world-leading health system.

He also said: “In the Board’s first year, we have been hugely impressed by the skill, commitment and expertise of the clinicians, support staff and managers of the HSE. This is also the case for the equally dedicated staff of our partner organisations with whom we share the challenges of providing high quality care under tight financial control. Through innovation, service development, new ways of working and thinking we have seen much positive change and remain committed to further improving the health and experience of our patients.

“Capitalising on all of this has helped us deal with Covid-19. The entire health system has demonstrated considerable resilience to meet the challenges we have faced since the onset of this pandemic. Our challenge now is to retain our proven capacity to adapt while we begin to stand up existing levels of service. This will be just as important as we design services to deal with the long term impact of the virus and at the same time give the public the services they deserve.”

The HSE’s 2019 Annual Report and Financial Statements are the first prepared since the re-establishment of a Board for the organisation in June 2019.

The key priority for the HSE during 2019 was to maximise the provision of safe services, while ensuring efficient financial management of the budget.

In the report Mr. Devane referred to the HSE’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic saying: “I am extremely grateful for the dedication and extraordinary commitment of every member of staff for all that is being done during this unprecedented and difficult time. Those thanks extend to General Practitioners (GPs), pharmacists and other community based workers as well as to everyone working in our partner organisations and our stakeholders. Healthcare workers, from the doctor or nurse in the front line to the procurement expert or tech support colleague, all have mobilised quickly to protect our country and our people from the virus. They are to be admired and commended.”

Also writing in the report HSE Chief Executive Officer Paul Reid said that many of the measures taken as individuals and as an organisation during the Covid-19 pandemic  clearly have the potential to transform the HSE permanently and for the better.

Referring to the HSE’s effort to deal with the pandemic Mr Reid said: “Our health system has shown an agility and a resilience that many of us did not believe was possible. As CEO I hope to support our staff to continue to give the best of themselves, to be proud of their efforts and to be working for the HSE, and to sustain the confidence of the public, which has been so very important in sustaining all of us this far.”

He also said:  “As CEO I am immensely proud of the innovation we have shown in response to the current crisis.”


Issued by HSE National Press Office


Notes to Editors:


The HSE had a total expenditure of €17.2 billion (bn) in 2019, including funding to non-statutory agencies of €4.7bn. The total capital expenditure was €688 million (m) (€603m for capital projects and €85m for ICT capital projects). This included capital grants to voluntary agencies of €325m.

Human Resources

The HSE recognises the vital role of staff at all levels of our organisation in addressing the many challenges in delivering health and personal social services. A People Strategy was developed to further build on this work. Since 2018, overall staffing levels have increased by 1.7% (or 1,960 WTEs). The largest growth was seen in nursing and midwifery (+561 WTEs) followed by patient and client care (+427 WTEs). Medical and dental staffing was the third highest staff category showing an increase, with an additional 390 WTEs, of which 154 WTEs were consultants.

Supporting Service Delivery

Over 4.9m people live in Ireland (Central Statistics Office (CSO), 2019), with a population increase of 64,500 people from April 2018 to April 2019, following a similar increase in 2017 / 2018. The population is growing across all regions and age groups, with the most significant growth seen in the older age groups. This continuing growth is due mainly to medical innovations, enhanced treatments and improved lifestyles.

Life expectancy in Ireland has increased by 3.1 years for males and by almost two years for females since 2007 and is now above the EU average with women living to, on average, 84 years and men to 80.4 years. The greatest gains in life expectancy have been achieved in the older age groups reflecting decreasing mortality rates from major diseases.

The three most common chronic diseases in Ireland are cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease and these give rise to three quarters of deaths in Ireland. It is estimated that over 1m people, over the age of 18 years, currently have one or more chronic diseases.

Community Healthcare

  • Over 1.54 million people were covered by a medical card.
  • Over 524,494 people were in receipt of a GP visit card. 
  • 1.12 million contacts were made with GP out of hours services. 
  • 93.4% of children received 3 doses of their 6 in 1 childhood vaccine at 24 months. 
  • 17.5 million home support hours were delivered to over 51,000 people (excluding hours from intensive home care packages).
  • Over 23,000 people were supported under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. 
  • 103 people completed the transition from congregated to community settings
  • Almost 36,000 day respite sessions were provided for people with disabilities. 
  • 73% of adults referred to General Adult Mental Health teams were seen within three months.
  • 98% of patients accessed a specialist inpatient palliative care bed within seven days of referral, and 86% of patients received specialist palliative care in the community within seven days of referral. 

Acute Services

  • Over 1.74m people received inpatient or day case treatment, with 1.1m of these on a day case basis.
  • Over 3.3m people attended outpatient departments.
  • Over 1.5m emergency attendances.
  • There were 59,406 babies born across 19 maternity units.
  • 86% of adults waited less than 15 months for a planned inpatient procedure and 93.3% for a planned day case procedure.
  • 92% of children waited less than 15 months for a planned inpatient procedure and 85% for a planned day case procedure.
  • 55% of patients waited less than 13 weeks following a referral for routine colonoscopy or OGD.
  • 69% of patients waited less than 52 weeks for an outpatient appointment.
Last updated on: 15 / 06 / 2020