- Many economic and demographically disadvantaged regions are at risk of becoming more disadvantaged in terms of service provision as a consequence of deep budget cuts required by the economic crisis
- The number of hospital beds varies according to the levels of investment by governments, but also in relation to the population density
- In many regions of Southern and Northern Europe with low population densities, the number of hospital beds per 100 000 inhabitants is very low.聽 In France or Finland, high number of beds per 100 000 inhabitants can be found in regions with low population densities
- Regional differences in health care services need to be further analysed with population density, urbanisation and accessibility to hospitals
Observations for policy
Public expenditure cuts triggered by the financial crisis and will impact on issues concerning the quality and accessibility to services of general interest (SGI) and most likely on the future provision and maintenance of those services.
Many economic and demographically disadvantaged regions face the risk of becoming even more disadvantaged as a consequence of the budget cuts needed to manage the financial crisis. This could hamper policy ambitions concerning economic, social and territorial cohesion as the gap between rich and poor regions can be expected to increase.
The importance given to SGI reflects the obligation of local and regional authorities in ensuring the provision of public services in accordance with certain standards, particularly in terms of quality, availability, and affordability.
SGI include the provision of health care services. The map shows the number of available hospital beds per 100 000 inhabitants. High national level differences reflect difference in organising national health care system. The differentiation presented depends on the investments made by each country, but also on the population density. Two distinct realities can be observed. In many regions of Southern and Northern Europe with low population densities, the number of hospital beds is very low per 100 000 inhabitants.聽 It seems however that this is not the case for regions in the same situation in France or Finland. Here, high number of beds per 100 000 inhabitants can be found in regions with low population densities.
In general, all countries in Europe have decreased the number of hospital beds per capita over the last decade. There are however some exceptions in Greece, Turkey and the UK.
Concepts and methods
The definition applied to SGI is twofold. On the one hand, it aggregates social services of general interest, including education, health care, housing and social assistance services. On the other, it aggregates services of general economic interest that encompass gas, electricity, postal services, or transport.
The number of hospital beds is part of the social services of general interest, and represents the availability of this service is specified quantities. Besides, it does not reflect qualitative aspects of health care nor concentration or de-concentration within regions. This also means that the number of hospital beds does not consider the specialisation of the hospital. It should be mentioned however that curative beds and available beds per capita concentrate a high correlation. The indicator shows the quantitative differences at both national and regional level.