Per-capita hospital beds drop to lowest in OECD

Despite growing, aging of Israeli population, number and rate of budgeted hospital beds continued to decline in 2010.

January 24, 2012 04:52
2 minute read.
Empty hospital corridor [illustrative]

Hospital beds 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Despite the growing and aging of the Israeli population, the number and rate of budgeted hospital beds continued to decline in 2010 – to the lowest rate for every type of hospitalization of the 34 OECD countries.

This was one of the statistics revealed in the Health Ministry’s annual Hospitalization Report for 2010 issued for publication on Tuesday.

Israel near bottom of list in OECD hospital bed rates

The decline in beds per capita was most glaring in general and psychiatric institutions.

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The decline was continuous during the past three years after stability in the previous decade and a rise in the second half of the 1970s.

A total of 371 institutions functioned in 2010: 46 general hospitals, 13 psychiatric and 310 for geriatric/chronic illness care, plus two rehabilitation hospitals. All the hospitals together had 42,625 approved patient beds; there are usually additional beds for patients that are not budgeted for or accompanied by additional manpower slots but set down in the corridors or in ward rooms, making them more crowded.

At the end of 2010, there were 1.91 per 1,000 residents compared to 2.22 a decade before – a 14 percent decline since 2000 and an 8% drop since 2005. Some departments were pared down due to the lack of medical specialists and nurses to run them.

The rate of surgical and intensive care wards declined between 2000 and 2010. The rate of beds for people aged 45 and up declined in internal medicine departments by 19%, in pediatric wards by 8% and in obstetric wards by 7%. The bed rate was lower in the North and South compared to the country’s central districts.

In 2010, there were 5.3 million hospitalization days around the country – 37% in internal medicine and 34% in surgical wards. A total of 22,965 people died in hospital wards that year, about 1.8% of all those hospitalized compared to 2% in 2000.

Over half died in general hospitals, a proportion that has been steady for years.

The average hospital stay is declining and reached four days. A quarter of those hospitalized were babies to adults aged 24; a fifth were aged 25 to 44, another 20% were between 45 and 64 and the rest (35%) were 65 or older.

The hospitalization rate in psychiatric hospitals continued to drop, from 1.21 per 1,000 residents in 2000 and 0.76 in 2005 to 0.45 in 2010.

The significant decline is due to increased treatment in the community and better medications that control psychiatric disorders and reduce the need for inpatient psychiatric care. Psychiatric institutions have around 100% occupancy rates.

As for geriatric/chronic disease institutions, there were 23,687 beds in these hospitals at the end of 2010, an increase of 378 during the year; in 2010, 22,000 people were hospitalized in these institutions, most of them getting nursing care.

A total of 764 beds were available in rehabilitation wards, half of them in general hospitals. Three-quarters of the institutions were owned by the state or Clalit Health Services and the rest were in other public or private institutions.

The country has 1,211 places for dialysis patients, half of them privately owned, a quarter of them state-owned and the rest belonging to Clalit Health Services. Twothirds of dialysis units were in hospitals and the rest were in community clinics. The demand for dialysis is increasing due to aging and diseases that end in kidney failure.

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