Business Irish

Monday 20 November 2017

Number of pharmacy graduates doubles but dentistry hits a slump

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Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

IRELAND has the third highest ratio of pharmacists in the EU with 114 pharmacists per 100,000 people while the number of pharmacy graduates has nearly doubled over the 10-year period between 2003 and 2013.

According to the latest figures from Eurostat, there are now 5,246 pharmacists in Ireland, which represented an annual increase of 4.8pc.

While Ireland's ratio of pharmacists is quite high compared to EU levels, the director of communications and strategy for the Irish Pharmacy Union Jim Curran says that doesn't mean the area is over staffed.

"The figures would include pharmacists registered or licensed in Ireland but not working in Ireland - they may be working in other jurisdictions like the UK, Australia or New Zealand," Mr Curran said.

Meanwhile, the number of dentists per 100,000 in Ireland is the sixth lowest in the EU.

As of 2013 the number of dentists licensed to practice in Ireland stood at 2,649.

The biggest decrease of practicing dentists per 100,000 people across the EU between the years of 2008 and 2013 was recorded in Ireland.

At the end of the five-year period there were 183 fewer dentists practising in Ireland.

Chief executive officer at the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan, said that the figures didn't come as much of a surprise after a raft of cuts were made to the profession in 2010.

"There were two obvious consequences as a result of the cuts. One is the supports for patients being significantly cut back meant that there was a very obvious drop off in people attending their dentist.

"Two, it also had a knock-on effect on dentists in terms of their income as well," he said.

Ireland's dentists-to-constituents ratio languishes in the bottom half of countries in the EU and Mr Hourihan said that the cost of running a practice in Ireland is a contributing factor to its low rating.

"The number of dentists per 100,000 is certainly lower than plenty of other countries and that's probably because it's not as attractive an option for people to live and work here because it's so expensive to run practices as much as anything else," Mr Hourihan said.

In spite of the growing cost of running a practice here, between the years of 2008 and 2013, the number of dentistry graduates in Ireland actually grew by 18.67pc, up to 89.

As a result, Mr Hourihan says that the association is seeing ever more dentists leaving the country to pursue their careers.

"With each class graduating in the last number of years, all bar a handful are emigrating and they're going further afield.

"They're no longer going across to the UK, people are going to Canada where there is a reciprocation of recognising qualifications. They're also going to New Zealand and Australia and that was not a pattern in dentistry that was there before," Mr Hourihan said.

The ratio of graduates coming out of the two dentistry schools based in Ireland increased in the five-year period.

In 2013 there were 1.9 graduates per 100,000 constituents, - up by 0.2 from 2008, while the ratio of pharmacists graduating decreased by 0.9 to 3 per 100,000.

Another area explored by the Eurostat figures was physiotherapy, which revealed that there are some 2,485 physiotherapists practicing in Ireland.

This works out at 54 physiotherapists per 100,000 people. As a result Ireland lies just below the median for physiotherapists per 100,000 people.

Irish Independent

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