Sunday 30 April 2017

Three new 'Beaumont Hospitals' needed to tackle ageing population

Research estimates the population of over 65s will grow by 200,000 over the next 10 years. Stock Image
Research estimates the population of over 65s will grow by 200,000 over the next 10 years. Stock Image
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Ireland will need to build three hospitals the size of Beaumont over the next 10 years to cater for its ageing population, according to research commissioned by insurer Irish Life.

The research estimates the population of over-65s will grow by 200,000 over the next 10 years, with that population accounting for just over half of public beds.

Jim Dowdall, managing director of Irish Life's health division, said healthcare costs were likely to rise both in the public and private system because people were living longer. That is likely to put upward pressure on health insurance premiums.

"We need to leave our various philosophies aside and try to design a health system that works, and that needs to be a structure that includes both the public and the private system because both of them have got a significant contribution to make," Mr Dowdall told the Irish Independent.

"That will require a mindset change, particularly a political mindset change. Because we need to find a way to leverage the private capacity that we have to offset and alleviate some of the burden that we have in the public health system."

Retirement

Irish Life group chief executive David Harney said the company's analysis indicated financial planning for retirement was not keeping pace with increases in life expectancy.

"Our analysis shows that half of females currently aged 65 years have a 50pc chance of living beyond 91, and as many as 25pc are likely to live beyond 97 years. For males, aged 65, the figures are lower, with half expected to live past 87 and 25pc beyond 93 years," Mr Harney said.

The company's research said the average age at which individual Irish Life customers first purchased a pension was 44 in 2016, almost 10 years older than the average age in 2000.

Meanwhile, the head of the company's investment management division, one of Ireland's biggest commercial landlords, said the demand for Dublin office space on foot of the Brexit vote may have been overstated. Patrick Burke said the company had received more than 50 enquiries.

"Some of what's come through already was already in train, or was significantly in train, and we're talking about Irish operations who are increasing the size of their operations here from London bases," Mr Burke said.

He said there were enquiries from "a couple of names" who did not already have a presence here.

Irish Independent

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