A profile of physiotherapy supply in Ireland
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The lack of information on public and private physiotherapy supply in Ireland makes current and future resource allocation decisions difficult.
This paper estimates the supply of physiotherapists in Ireland and profiles physiotherapists across acute and non-acute sectors, and across public and private practice. It examines geographic variation in physiotherapist supply, examining the implications of controlling for healthcare need.
Physiotherapist headcounts are estimated using Health Service Personnel Census (HSPC) and Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) Register data. Headcounts are converted to whole-time equivalents (WTEs) using the HSPC and a survey of ISCP members to account for full- and part-time working practices. Non-acute supply per 10,000 population in each county is estimated to examine geographic inequalities and the raw population is adjusted in turn for a range of need indicators.
An estimated 3172 physiotherapists were practising in Ireland in 2015; 6.8 physiotherapists per 10,000, providing an estimated 2620 WTEs. Females accounted for 74% of supply. Supply was greater in the non-acute sector; 1774 WTEs versus 846 WTEs in the acute sector. Physiotherapists in the acute sector were located mainly in publicly financed institutions (89%) with an even public/private split observed in the non-acute sector. Non-acute physiotherapist supply is unequally distributed across Ireland (Gini coefficient = 0.12; 95% CI 0.08–0.15), and inequalities remain after controlling for variations in healthcare needs across counties.
The supply of physiotherapists in Ireland is 30% lower than the EU-28 average. Substantial inequality in the distribution of physiotherapists across counties is observed.
KeywordsGeographic distribution Non-acute supply Physiotherapy supply
The authors thank Des Williams (Health Service Executive), and the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists for provision, support, and advice in using the data. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the Health Research Board.
The work was supported by the Health Research Board grant (Grant No. 4644727) for project number HRA-2014-HSR-659.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants.
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