Personal Finance

Which Countries in Europe Have the Most Hospital Beds for COVID-19?

Which countries in Europe have the best infrastructure to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients? Here are statistics comparing the number of hospital beds in countries across Europe.

Contents

Hospital Beds per Person

Which countries are best prepared to serve their residents who need to be hospitalised for COVID-19? The country in Europe with the most hospital beds per person is Germany, with 8.00 beds per 1,000 residents. Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania round out the top 6, all with more than 6 beds per 1,000 people.

The six countries with the worst supply of hospital beds in Europe are Italy, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden—ranging from Italy with 3.18 beds to Sweden which has only 2.22 hospital beds per 1,000 residents.

RankCountryHospital Beds per 1,000 People
1Germany8.00
2Austria7.37
3Hungary7.02
4Czech Republic6.63
5Poland6.62
6Lithuania6.56
7France5.98
8Slovakia5.82
9Belgium5.64
10Latvia5.57
11Estonia4.69
12Luxembourg4.51
13Slovenia4.50
14Greece4.21
15Portugal3.39
16Netherlands3.32
17Finland3.28
18Italy3.18
19Spain2.97
20Ireland2.96
21United Kingdom2.54
22Denmark2.50
23Sweden2.22
Average4.9
Chart showing the number of hospital beds per 1000 residents by country in Europe
Germany has the most hospital beds per person in Europe.

Countries with the Biggest Hospital Bed Shortages in Europe

The chart below uses the "beds per resident" data to show which countries have the biggest shortfall of hospital beds in Europe. As you can see, Italy, Spain and the UK all have population bars (in green) far exceeding the hospital bed line. This difference represents a relative shortage of beds. While countries like Sweden, Denmark and Ireland also have poor bed-to-resident ratios, their smaller population sizes result in a smaller absolute bed shortage when compared to the UK, Italy and Spain.

Chart showing shortages of hospital beds in Europe

Hospital Beds per 10,000 People Aged 70+

How well can each region care for its older population, in particular? Let's factored in the age of each population—since older residents are much more prone to requiring hospitalisation and death—and find the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people aged 70 or older in each country. According to this metric, Poland is best placed with hospital beds to care for the vulnerable older generation, with a relatively strong supply of beds for the older people who may need them most.

RankCountryPopulation Aged 70+Total Number of Hospital BedsHospital Beds per 1,000 People aged 70+
1Poland4,154,338251,40660.5
2Slovakia534,71431,67959.2
3Hungary1,249,38768,64454.9
4Austria1,198,80165,02054.2
5Czech Republic1,355,63570,34551.9
6Germany12,998,017662,33951.0
7Lithuania396,66018,42646.5
8Luxembourg60,0612,71545.2
9France9,196,636400,21843.5
10Belgium1,518,07864,28842.3
11Latvia277,30110,77438.9
12Estonia181,4516,18734.1
13Slovenia275,0539,30133.8
14Ireland453,93014,29831.5
15Greece1,731,42345,22026.1
16Netherlands2,239,57957,04125.5
17Finland809,31718,08322.3
18Portugal1,593,38834,88721.9
19Spain6,553,363138,57621.1
20United Kingdom8,653,879168,33519.5
21Italy10,087,222192,33919.1
22Denmark792,43514,45318.2
23Sweden1,445,75422,46715.5
Chart showing the number of hospital beds per 1000 residents over 70 years old by country in Europe
Poland is best placed with hospital beds to care for the vulnerable older generation

Comparing the Number of Doctors Across Europe

The number of doctors available to treat patients is also critical. The country with the most doctors per person is Sweden, where there are 5.4 physicians per 1,000 people. By this metric, Poland is the least prepared in Europe with only 2.4 physicians per 1,000 people. The United Kingdom ranks third worst in this metric, with just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people.

chart comparing the number of doctors per person across Europe

If we also include data on the number of nurses (and midwives) then Finland has the most health care professionals per person, with 18.5 physicians, nurses and midwives per 1,000 people. Latvia and Greece have the least, with just 8 per 1,000.

RankAreaPhysiciansNurses and MidwivesTotal
1Finland3.814.718.5
2Ireland3.114.317.4
3Germany4.213.217.4
4Sweden5.411.516.9
5Luxembourg312.315.3
6Denmark4.510.314.8
7Netherlands3.511.114.6
8Belgium3.311.114.4
9Austria5.18.213.3
10France3.29.712.9
11Czech Republic4.38.412.7
12Slovenia39.712.7
13Lithuania4.37.912.2
14Slovakia2.59.211.7
15United Kingdom2.88.311.1
16Italy4.15.910
17Estonia3.56.510
18Hungary3.26.69.8
19Portugal3.36.49.7
20Spain4.15.59.6
21Poland2.45.78.1
22Greece4.63.48
23Latvia3.24.88
OECD Members2.9810.9
Central Europe and the Baltics2.96.59.4
Euro Area3.89.112.9

How Old are Europe's Doctors?

While the UK has one of the lowest numbers of doctors per 1,000 people, their doctors are younger than in other European countries. Only 12.8% of the UK's doctors are 55 years of age or older. Compare this to Italy, where 53.3% of doctors are 55 or older. This might be a critical metric to consider in the fight against COVID-19, since older doctors will be more likely to fall seriously ill and ultimately be unable to work than younger doctors.

chart comparing the number of doctors per person across Europe

Methodology

For this study, we analysed data on hospital beds, populations and COVID-19 fatality rates from the OECD, Eurostat and Worldometer.

First we took a look at the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in each country. Countries with more hospital beds per resident are likely to have more fixed infrastructure for caring for COVID-19 patients. This data does not include temporary "hospitals" being erected in sports centres, tents, etc.

Then we factored in the age of each population, since older people are much more prone to requiring hospitalisation. To do so, we calculated the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people aged 70 or older in each country. Countries with a larger older population are likely to need more hospital beds.

We included countries in Europe for which we could source data. Here is the list:

  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Finland
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • Slovenia
  • Luxembourg
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Belgium
  • Slovakia
  • France
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Germany

Sources

Supporting Data

Fatality Rates of COVID-19

While younger people can and do die of COVID-19, fatality rates are significantly higher for older people. According to the latest data available, the fatality for those age 70-79 is 8.0% and for age 80+ is 14.8%. Compare this to the fatality rate for under 40s of 0.2%. This means that over 80s are 74X more likely to die than those under age 40.

Chart showing the fatality rate of COVID 19 by age
While younger people can die of COVID-19, fatality rates are significantly higher for older people

Age Statistics by Region

How many older people are there in each country, specifically those 70 years old or more? It's important to understand this, since older people face a higher risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. Ireland, Slovakia and Luxembourg have the smallest proportion of over 70s, under 10% of the population.

Germany, Greece and Italy have the largest proportion of over 70s. In Italy, for example, 16.68% of the population is aged 70+.

Age Statistics by CountryPopulationPopulation Aged 70+% of Population Aged 70+
Ireland4,830,392453,9309.40%
Slovakia5,443,120534,7149.82%
Luxembourg602,00560,0619.98%
Poland37,976,6874,154,33810.94%
Czech Republic10,610,0551,355,63512.78%
Hungary9,778,3711,249,38712.78%
Netherlands17,181,0842,239,57913.04%
United Kingdom66,273,5768,653,87913.06%
Slovenia2,066,880275,05313.31%
Belgium11,398,5891,518,07813.32%
Austria8,822,2671,198,80113.59%
Denmark5,781,190792,43513.71%
France66,926,1669,196,63613.74%
Estonia1,319,133181,45113.76%
Spain46,658,4476,553,36314.05%
Lithuania2,808,901396,66014.12%
Sweden10,120,2421,445,75414.29%
Latvia1,934,379277,30114.34%
Finland5,513,130809,31714.68%
Portugal10,291,0271,593,38815.48%
Germany82,792,35112,998,01715.70%
Greece10,741,1651,731,42316.12%
Italy60,483,97310,087,22216.68%
Chart showing the percentage of people in European countries over 70 years old
Italy, Greece and Germany have the highest proportion of Over 70s
Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team.

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