Population rise outpaces health investment
The changing face of Ireland, revealed in new Census population growth figures, is outpacing the ability of our health services to cope with additional demands.
The figure showing the population rising to 4.76 million is partly due to people living longer. This is thanks to better treatments, drugs and care delivered by hospitals and doctors.
But even before the Census data was released yesterday the impact of this trend was already being felt, particularly in hospital emergency departments.
Last winter saw another surge in attendances as many elderly people in particular presented for care. While they are thankfully living longer, some have chronic diseases and require regular medical treatment.
Many had to spent long hours on trolleys as hospitals struggled to cope.
The message from the Census yesterday is that this is set to intensify - and hospitals and community services will face increasing demands to meet the needs of this vulnerable section of the population.
More people, of all ages, also means that this Government and those of the future will be faced with the necessity to invest more in health services.
Everything from more demand for childhood vaccines to medical cards and cancer treatments will add to the bill.
There are also geographical implications, particularly in Dublin and the commuter belt.
It will have implications for how we reconfigure A&E departments and maternity units for the future.