Spain is one of the European Union countries with the largest ‘medicocentrists’, that is, they have a higher proportion of physicians compared to the number of nurses. Specifically, in our country there are 1.3 Nursing professionals for each doctorbeing the European average of 2.2according to the latest report developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) together with the European Commission and entitled ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2022. State of Health in the EU cycle’.
In fact, only Bulgaria surpasses Spain, since it has a ratio of 1.0, being the European country with the most doctors for each nursing staff. Meanwhile, at the same level as our country are Portugal, Cyprus and Latvia, also with 1.3. Outside the European Union, but in the community context, it is Turkeywhich also shows a ratio of 1.3 nurses per medical professional.
In the lead, there are countries that even double the European average, as is the case of Switzerland, which has 4.2 nurses per doctor. they follow him Finland Y Luxembourg, with 3.9. Up close, they are Iceland with 3.6; Norway Y Belgium with 3.5, France with 3,4 and Slovenia and Irelandboth also with 3.2.
Nursing shortage worries Europe
The same study argues that the pre-existing shortage of nurses in countries like Spain was exacerbated during the peaks of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in Intensive Care Units, but also in other hospital units and long-term care facilities. However, the OECD and the European Commission indicate that “the demand for nurses is expected to continue to increase in the coming years due to an aging population, while many nurses are nearing retirement age.
In Europe, the retention rate of nurses in the profession is a growing concern “to avoid exacerbating current and future shortages.” Concern about growing shortages has led many countries to increase the number of students in Nursing, “although it will take a few years before the impact is felt.”
On average, in EU countries, there were 8.3 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants in 2020an increase from 7.5 in 2010. Among EU countries, the number of nurses per capita was highest in 2020 in Finland, Ireland and Germany. In some countries that have a relatively low number of nurses, such as Italy and Spain, “a large number of nursing assistants provide assistance to nurses”. In fact, in our country, there are 6.1 nurses for every 100,000 inhabitants.
How many nurses are there in the EU and in Spain?
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of nurses per capita has increased in most EU countriesbut not in some that already had a low density in 2010 (for example, Latvia and the Slovak Republic), the gap with respect to other countries and the average has been widening.
In any case, “nurses greatly outnumber doctors in most EU countries”. In 2020, there were more than two nurses per doctor on average in EU countries, with a nurse to doctor ratio of around four in Luxembourg and Finland.
The proportion is much lower in southern European countries, such as Spainand in Latvia. In fact, several countries have begun implementing more advanced roles for nurses to improve access to care, including “nurse practitioner” roles.
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