20. Jul 2023
Second-highest number of hospital healthcare staff per capita in Europe

Denmark, the Faroes and Norway have the highest per capita number of healthcare staff in hospitals out of the 20 European countries for which such statistics are available

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

The Faroese statistics are thus comparable to the 20 European countries that feature in the Eurostat hospital employment database. The latest comparable figures are from 2021; however, the latest figures from Iceland are from 2020. See the Eurostat figures her

The Faroese statistics include data from 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. The graphs below include separate figures – measured in full-time equivalents (FTEs) – for Faroese hospitals only and for Faroese hospitals plus work carried out as part of treatment overseas. For more about this, see the comments at the bottom of this article.

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.

Nordics top the overall list

Hospital care workers are grouped into four general categories: ‘physicians’, ‘professional nurses and midwives’, ‘nursing associates and healthcare assistants’ and ‘other health service providers’. 

Denmark, the Faroes and Norway have the highest overall per capita number of healthcare staff in hospitals, measured in annual FTEs. Denmark has 16,0 FTEs per 1,000 population, followed by the Faroes, with 15.9 and Norway with 15.6. Iceland has 10.2 and is 12th on the list.


Excluding the overseas FTEs from the overall figure for the three Faroese hospitals, the Faroese figure falls to 13.8 FTE per 1,000 population. This drops the Faroes down to sixth on the list, behind Norway, Malta, Lithuania and Switzerland.

2,6 physician FTEs per 1,000 population

The Faroes are also sixth on the list for the ‘Physicians’ staff category, with 2.6 FTEs per 1,000 population, or 2.3 when FTEs for overseas treatment are excluded.

In this category, Denmark has 3.2 FTEs per 1,000 population, Norway 2.8 and Iceland 2.0.


Norway and the Faroes top list for nurses and midwives

Faroese hospitals have 8.2 FTEs per 1,000 population for nurses and midwives. Excluding FTEs for overseas treatment, this number drops to 7.3.

Only Norway has a higher figure, 8.4, in this category. Denmark has 6.4 and Iceland 4.7.


Faroes top the ‘other staff’ list

Faroese hospitals have significantly more staff in the ‘Other staff’ category per capita than the other countries on the list. This category includes management, medical secretaries, medical social workers and staff working in finance, communication, IT, kitchens, warehouses and in cleaning.

In this category, Faroese hospital have 7.8 FTEs per 1,000 population, compared to 5.1 in Iceland, 4.4 in Norway and 3.8 in Denmark.


More staff per FTE in the Faroes than elsewhere

Many countries on the Eurostat list have only supplied figures for FTEs and not staff numbers. As this makes it impossible to calculate the number of staff per FTE, these countries are not included in this particular list.

Faroese hospitals have 1.8 staff per FTE for healthcare workers. This is the highest figure on the list, followed by Germany and Iceland, which have 1.4.


In Faroese hospitals, the staff per FTE figure is particularly high for physicians, with three physicians per FTE. This is more than twice as much as number two on this list. In Iceland, this figure is 1.4 and in Denmark 1.1.


For nurses and midwives, this figure is also higher in the Faroes than elsewhere. Faroese hospitals have 1.6 nurses/midwives per FTE, followed by Iceland, with 1.4. In Denmark, this figure is 1.2.


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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