20. Jul 2023
Number of hospital healthcare staff up 20% in past decade

The number of annual full-time equivalents (FTE) per 1,000 population in Faroese hospitals increased from just over 15 to almost 16 in the past ten years.

Statistics for healthcare staff in Faroese hospitals are now compiled in accordance with international standards, allowing for direct comparisons with figures from other countries.

The revised figures, from the 2010 - 2022 period, cover the three hospitals in the Faroe Islands: the National Hospital in Tórshavn, Klaksvík Hospital and Suðuroy Hospital.

Since a significant part of Faroese patients receive treatment abroad, the relevant overseas healthcare workers are also included in these figures. For more about this, see the comments at the bottom of this article.

The figures reveal that in 2022, just over 850 of the 1,300 total annual FTEs in the Faroese hospitals (including treatment overseas) were healthcare workers. The past decade has seen an increase of almost 20% in hospital healthcare worker FTEs.


For comparison, the Faroese population has increased by 12% since 2012. 

The FTE figure per 1,000 population for hospital care workers has increased from 15.0% in 2012 to 15.9% from 2012 to 2022.

Physician FTEs up by half

Hospital care workers are grouped into four general categories: ‘physicians’, ‘professional nurses and midwives’, ‘nursing associates and healthcare assistants’ and ‘other health service providers’. Of these four groups, the number of FTEs for physicians has increased far more than in the other categories in the past decade, going up by almost half since 2012.


On the other hand, the FTE figure for ‘nursing associates and healthcare assistants’ has declined over this period. This group includes health visitors, healthcare assistants and hospital porters.


Almost 70% work at the National Hospital

More than two-thirds of hospital care workers are employed by the National Hospital in Tórshavn. Of the 877 annual FTEs for care staff in Faroese hospitals and those involved in relevant treatment overseas in 2022, 69% worked at the National Hospital. Subtracting overseas FTEs from the overall figure, the National Hospital accounted for 78%.

Overseas treatment activity is relatively high, totalling 113 FTEs in 2022, compared to 92 at Klaksvík Hospital and 76 at Suðuroy Hospital.

The annual FTE figure for the National Hospital and Suðuroy Hospital has risen by more than 20% in the past decade. The increase for Klaksvík Hospital is 11%.


One-third are nurses or midwives

Despite the difference in size of the three hospitals, it is possible to compare the distribution of the healthcare staff categories. Nurses and midwives form the largest category, making up almost a third of the total hospital staff number.

The National Hospital has, relatively speaking, far more physicians than other healthcare workers, compared to the other two hospitals. 


Female physicians outnumber male physicians for the first time

About 80% of all hospital staff are women, and almost all nurses and midwives are women.

For hospital care workers, the ‘physicians’ category has seen the biggest change in sex distribution in recent years. There are now, for the first time on record, more female physicians than male physicians, measured in FTEs.


Big difference between staff numbers and FTEs

Compiling staff statistics by counting persons and by using FTE figures leads to very different results. FTE indicates the workload of an employed person that makes workloads comparable across various contexts. FTE is calculated as the number of work hours equivalent to full-time work for one employee for one year. When staff are calculated as persons, all staff members who have worked in the relevant year are counted, regardless of the number of hours worked.

Some may work part-time, some may start or leave their jobs in the middle of the year and some positions may also be filled by short-term consultants.

In 2022, there were, on average, 1.7 staff per FTE, compared to 1.6 in 2012. This figure was highest for physicians, at 3.0, compared to 2.7 in 2012.

The graph below shows that staff numbers are many times higher when persons are counted than when using FTE.   


About the figures

Hospital staff categories are defined in accordance with the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), for which the ILO, a United Nations agency, is responsible.

are classified into the ISCO minor group ‘221 Medical doctors’, including unit groups ‘2211 Generalist Medical Practitioners’ and ‘2212 Specialist Medical Practitioners’.

Professional nurses and midwives
are classified into the ISCO minor group ‘222 Nursing and Midwifery professionals’ and unit group ‘3222 Midwifery associate professionals’. Note, however, that no Faroese hospital staff are registered under unit group 3222.

Nursing associates
are classified into the ISCO unit group ‘3221 Nursing associate professional’. No Faroese hospital staff are registered under this unit group.

Healthcare assistants
are classified into the ISCO unit group '5321 Health care assistants’. This group includes health visitors, healthcare assistants and hospital porters. 

Other health service providers
are classified into ISCO groups such as ‘3258 Hospital porters ’, ‘2261 Dentists’, ‘3251 Dental assistants and therapists’, ‘2634 Psychologists’, ‘226910 Occupational therapists’, ‘226410 Physiotherapists’, ‘2265 Dieticians and nutritionists’, ‘226620 Language therapists’, ‘3111 Chemical and physical science technicians’, ‘311120 Research assistants in laboratories’, ‘321100 Technicians specialising in X-ray and other treatment equipment’ and ‘3212 Medical and pathology laboratory technicians’.

Other staff
includes all staff not specified above, such as management, medical secretaries, finance staff, communication staff, medical social workers, engineers, IT staff, chefs and kitchen staff, warehouse staff and cleaning staff.


The source for these statistics is the Faroese Revenue Office.


As precise figures for staff and FTEs in the ‘Treatment overseas’ category are not available, costs for treatment abroad are converted to staff and FTEs.

The same applies to FTE figures for consultants, i.e. consultant costs are converted to FTEs. The hospital system employed 201 consultants, equivalent to just under 26 FTEs, in 2022. 

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