Reports 2016/19

Health care personnel 2000 - 2014. Actual development versus earlier projections

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Since the middle of the 1990s Statistics Norway has projected supply and demand for personnel with health care education providing health and social services. In this report we compare earlier projections with the observed development from 2000 to 2014. A major part of the information presented is based on administrative registers for employment and education.

According to the limitation of the health and social services chosen for the report, the total amount of man-years employed reached 334 000 in 2014, an increase of almost 100 000 since 2000. Growth seems to have diminished somewhat towards the end of the period. Measured in man-years the strongest increase in employment has taken place in long term care for aged and disabled, which is the largest area regarding employment in the industry. Except for a modest growth in the number of elderly, a major part of the increase is caused by increased user propensities and increased use of resources per user. Especially, this is caused by growth in services directed towards young people, disabled or mentally retarded.

In per cent growth has been strongest in an area mainly outsourced from the somatic hospitals during the past decade including medical laboratories and ambulance services. The number of man-years in child welfare authorities has almost tripled between 2000 and 2014, and employment in areas like hospitals for psychiatric treatment of children and adolescents, physiotherapeutic treatment, prophylactic health services and social services has doubled due to political priorities.

Measured by level of education there has been a significant growth in the share of employed with an education at college or university level in almost every area, while the share of unskilled is reduced. Together with increasing user propensities and more resources per user the shift in demand for labour in favour of tertiary educated is the main reason why demand for physicians and nurses has increased more than what follows from growth in population. These prospects were foreseen around 2000, but a moderate growth in fulfilled education up to 2010 has not been sufficient to balance growth in demand for these groups. Without a significant increase in immigration of physicians and nurses from 2005 there would have been a severe shortage. Immigration and education of immigrants has also balanced increased demand for auxiliary nurses and care workers with upper secondary education. But a diminishing number of youths fulfilling this education have also made it difficult to obtain former aims to reduce the share of unskilled.

A strong observed increase in the number of employed with several of the other college or university educations may to a large degree be explained with a high number of persons fulfilling education compared to the number of persons retiring. Simultaneously there has been a considerable growth in demand for these services in accordance with political priorities. This is the case for occupational therapists, physiotherapists, health workers for mentally retarded, psychologists, child welfare workers and social workers. There has also been a considerably growth in demand for radiographers, pharmacists and dental nurses, while demand for dentists has increased more moderately. A part of the increased demand for dentists and pharmacists is also met by immigration.

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