Healthcare resource statistics - beds

Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: October 2017.

This article presents an overview of European Union (EU) statistics related to the availability and occupancy of hospital beds as well as the availability of long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities. Hospital beds include beds for curative care, long-term care and rehabilitative care.

This article is one of a set of statistical articles concerning healthcare resources in the EU which forms part of an online publication on health statistics.

Table 1: Hospital beds by type of care, 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bds)
Figure 1: Curative care beds in hospitals, 2008 and 2014
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
(thousands)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bds)
Figure 2: Rehabilitative care beds in hospitals, 2008 and 2014
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bds)
Figure 3: Long-term care beds in hospitals, 2008 and 2014
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bds)
Table 2: Hospital beds by type of ownership, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bds2)
Figure 4: Curative care bed occupancy rate in hospitals, 2008 and 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_bedoc)
Figure 5: Long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities, 2008 and 2014
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_bdsns)

Main statistical findings

Hospital beds

In 2014, more than three quarters (76.0 %) of all beds in EU-28 hospitals were for curative care, 14.0 % for rehabilitative care and the remaining 10.0 % for long-term care and other purposes. Recent methodological changes in the classification of hospital beds have included psychiatric beds among the various categories of beds, however, in most countries they are also accounted for separately (see Table 1). Between 2008 and 2014, the number of hospital beds in the EU-28 decreased from 2.81 million to 2.65 million, a relative decrease of 5.9 %.

Germany had the highest number of hospital beds relative to population size

Among the EU Member States, Germany recorded not only the highest number of hospital beds (666 thousand) in 2014, but also the highest number relative to population size, with 823 hospital beds per 100 000 population — see Table 1. Austria, Lithuania and Bulgaria also recorded more than 700 hospital beds per 100 000 inhabitants. The average for the EU-28 as a whole was 521 hospital beds per 100 000 inhabitants. Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom recorded the lowest number of hospital beds relative to population size, all under 300 per 100 000 inhabitants, with the number of beds in Spain also just below this level. Note that for the United Kingdom only beds in public hospitals are included while the same is true in Ireland except that psychiatric care beds in the private sector are also included.

The share of curative care beds among all hospital beds was highest in Cyprus (100 %), followed by Portugal (with an estimated 98 %), Denmark (97 %) and Ireland (94 %) . By contrast, less than three fifths of hospital beds were for curative care in Latvia. In most EU Member States (no data for Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom), long-term care beds accounted for 20 % or less of the total number of hospital beds, with the Czech Republic (24 %), Hungary (25 %) and Finland (30 %) reporting higher shares.

Decreasing availability of curative care beds in most EU Member States

Figures 1 to 3 provide an analysis of the change between 2008 and 2014 in the availability (relative to the size of population) of three types of hospital beds. Changes in the number of hospital beds can be compared with changes in the average length of stays for in-patients and the number of hospital discharges.

Excluding the Member States for which there is a break in series, only Germany, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia recorded an increase in their respective number of curative care beds relative to population size. In 17 other Member States (without breaks in the series) there was a downward trend in the number of curative beds per 100 000 inhabitants. Within this seven year period, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Denmark saw the number of curative beds per 100 000 inhabitants diminish by more than 50 beds, while in Latvia the number of curative care beds fell by 169 beds and reached 338 per 100 000 in 2014.

Rehabilitative care beds accommodate patients with the intent to stabilise, improve or restore impaired body functions and structures. The number of rehabilitative beds relative to population size increased in most EU Member States over the period under consideration, with increases of more than 10  beds per 100 000 inhabitants in Austria, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria, and smaller increases in Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Latvia, Portugal, Ireland and Estonia — see Figure 2. The largest decreases were recorded in Finland, and Hungary where the number of rehabilitative beds fell between 2008 and 2014 by more than five per 100 000 inhabitants.

Among the 20 EU Member States for which information is available and the data are not influenced by a break in series, 9 reported a decrease between 2008 and 2014 in their number of long-term care beds relative to population size, 8 an increase and 3 no change (all of which had no long-term care beds). The largest fall in the number of long-term care beds was in Finland, where the number per 100 000 inhabitants more than halved in seven years, dropping from 292 in 2008 to 137 in 2014. Decreases of 49 long-term care beds per 100 000 inhabitants were observed for France and 17 long term beds in Slovakia. By contrast, there were increases between 10 and 21 beds per 100 000 inhabitants during this period in Romania, Austria, Latvia and Slovenia, while a higher increase — 59 beds per 100 000 inhabitants — was recorded in Croatia.

Most EU Member States reported an increase in the number of beds in for-profit private hospitals

Table 2 provides an analysis of the number of hospital beds based on the type of hospital ownership. Publically owned hospitals are those under the ownership or control of a government unit or another public corporation. Privately-owned hospitals may be distinguished as either not-for-profit (no financial gain for the unit(s) that establishes, control or finances them) or for-profit.

In 2014, most of the hospital beds in Slovenia, Lithuania Croatia, Hungary (2011 data), Finland, Malta and Romania were in publically owned hospitals, with hospital beds in for-profit private ownership accounting for just 1–5 % of the total number of beds. The share of hospital beds in publically owned hospitals also exceeded 90 % in Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. At the other extreme (and given the data availability), in Germany 41 % of beds were in publically owned hospitals. Apart from Germany, the lowest shares of beds in publically owned hospitals were in Cyprus (52 %), France (62 %) and Greece (65 %), with the shares recorded for all of the remaining EU Member States exceeding two thirds.

In absolute terms, the largest number of hospital beds in for-profit private hospitals was in Germany where there were 200 thousand such beds, more than double the next largest number: 97 thousand in France.

Excluding those with a break in series, a comparison can be made for 17 EU Member States between 2008 and 2014 for the number of beds in for-profit private hospitals. Five of these — Spain, Finland, Cyprus, Denmark, and Estonia — reported a fall in their respective number of beds in such hospitals, Slovenia reported no change, while the remainder reported increases. The largest increases in relative terms were in Romania, where the number of hospital beds in for-profit private hospitals increased more than four-fold, and Bulgaria where they more than doubled. In absolute terms, the largest increases were in Germany and Bulgaria where for-profit private hospitals added six thousand beds in each country (between 2008 and 2014). The number of beds in for-profit private hospitals also increased by at least two thousand in Romania, France, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Highest curative care beds occupancy rates in Ireland

Among the EU Member States (see Figure 4 for data availability), the occupancy rate of curative care beds in 2014 ranged from 68 % in Slovenia to 84 % in the United Kingdom (2010 data), with the Netherlands (46 %; 2012 data) below this range and Ireland (93 %) above it. There was no clear pattern among the Member States with respect to the change in occupancy rates between 2008 and 2014. Among the 21 Member States for which data are available: 7 recorded an increase, 13 a decrease and Luxembourg presented the same value in both years. In percentage point terms, the largest increase in occupancy rates was recorded in Belgium (2008-13), while the largest decrease was in Cyprus.

Long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities

Increase in long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities relative to population size in most EU Member States

While the analysis presented so far has focused on beds in hospital, this final section looks at beds in nursing and residential care facilities. In 2014, there were 3.1 million long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities in the 19 EU Member States were data was available (see Figure 5) (2011 data for Belgium and Denmark; 2012 data for the Netherlands; and 2013 data for Germany, Spain, France and Italy). Relative to population size, among the available data, the highest numbers of long-term care beds in such facilities were recorded in Sweden and Belgium (2011 data), with 1.3 thousand and 1.2 thousand per 100 000 inhabitants respectively (see Figure 5). In total, 13 EU Member States reported at least 600 long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities for every 100 000 inhabitants. By contrast, the remaining six Member States for which data are available reported fewer than 400 such beds per 100 000 inhabitants, with Bulgaria (44 per 100 000 inhabitants) and Greece (16 per 100 000 inhabitants) reporting the lowest ratios.

Leaving aside the four EU Member States for which there is a break in series, 12 of the remaining 14 Member States for which data are available reported an increase between 2008 and 2014 in the ratio of long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities relative to population: there were an extra 141 or more beds per 100 000 inhabitants in Finland, an extra 217 beds per 100 000 inhabitants in Slovakia, and an extra 358 beds per 100 000 inhabitants in Spain (2008–13). The two Member States that reported a fall in this ratio were Bulgaria and Denmark (2008–11).

Data sources and availability

Key concepts

Hospitals comprise licensed establishments primarily engaged in providing medical, diagnostic and treatment services that include physician, nursing, and other health services to in-patients and the specialised accommodation services required by in-patients. Hospitals may also provide out-patient services as a secondary activity. Speciality hospitals, including mental health and substance abuse hospitals, are also covered.

Long-term care institutions refer to nursing and residential care facilities which provide accommodation and long-term care as a package. Beds in nursing and residential care facilities are recorded separately from hospital beds.

Hospital beds are those beds which are regularly maintained and staffed and immediately available for the care of admitted patients. Both occupied and unoccupied beds are included. Excluded are recovery trolleys and beds for same day care (day care and out-patient care), provisional and temporary beds. The following descriptions refer the classification of hospital beds by type of care: Total hospital beds = Curative (acute) care beds + Rehabilitative care beds + Long-term care beds + Other hospital beds

  • Curative care beds in hospitals are for patients where the principal clinical intent is to do one or more of the following: manage labour (obstetric), perform surgery, cure or treat (including relieving symptoms, reducing severity, or protecting against exacerbation and/or complication) of non-mental illness or injury, perform diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. They include beds for psychiatric and non-psychiatric curative (acute) care, from general hospitals, mental health hospitals and other specialised hospitals. Beds for palliative and long-term nursing care are recorded under long-term care.
  • Rehabilitative care beds in hospitals are beds accommodating patients with the principle intent to stabilise, improve or restore impaired body functions and structures, compensate for the absence or loss of body functions and structures, improve activities and participation and prevent impairments, medical complications and risks. They include beds for psychiatric and non-psychiatric curative (acute) care, from general hospitals, mental health hospitals and other specialised hospitals.
  • Long-term care beds in hospitals are for patients requiring long-term care due to chronic impairments and a reduced degree of independence in activities of daily living, including palliative care. They include beds for psychiatric and non-psychiatric curative (acute) care, from general hospitals, mental health hospitals and other specialised hospitals.
  • Other beds include all other beds in hospitals not elsewhere classified.


Psychiatric care beds in hospitals are for patients with mental health problems. Included are all beds in mental health and substance abuse hospitals, as well as beds in psychiatric departments of general and specialty hospitals. Beds for long-term nursing care in mental health and substance abuse hospitals are recorded under psychiatric care beds. Beds for palliative care are recorded under long-term care. Until recently these beds where classified in a separate category within the data collection on hospital beds. As of July 2016 all published data referring to psychiatric beds are included in the other categories according to the healthcare that each patient receives (curative, rehabilitative, long-term care or other).

Healthcare resources and activities

Statistics on healthcare resources (such as beds in hospitals as well as nursing and residential care facilities) are documented in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

For country specific notes on this data collection, please refer to these background information documents:

Note on tables: the symbol ':' is used to show where data are not available.

Context

Indicators concerning the number and type of hospital beds complement information on hospital personnel and equipment to provide an overview of the resources available for delivering healthcare in hospitals. The European core health indicators (ECHI) shortlist includes an indicator on ‘hospital beds’ by type of bed in the chapter on health services. It should be noted that the information on hospital beds only covers beds for in-patient care: many hospitals also provide day care and out-patient care and beds used for these services are excluded from the information presented.

In many areas, technological developments have reduced the average length of stay for in-patient procedures or replaced procedures requiring in-patient care with ones that can be provided to day care or out-patients.

See also

Online publications

Healthcare resources

Methodology

General health statistics articles

Further Eurostat information

Main tables

Database

Health care resources (hlth_res)
Health care facilities (hlth_facil)
Hospital beds by type of care (hlth_rs_bds)
Hospital beds by hospital ownership (hlth_rs_bds2)
Hospital beds by NUTS 2 regions (hlth_rs_bdsrg)
Long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities by NUTS 2 regions (hlth_rs_bdsns)
Health care activities (hlth_act)
Curative care bed occupancy rate (hlth_co_bedoc)


Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links