IRELAND spends more government money on health care than any other nation in the European Union, figures have revealed.
Eurostat examined which sectors European governments spend the most money on and found that some 19.9 per cent of Ireland’s 2014 budget was spent on health.
This is 4.9 per cent above the EU average of 15.5 per cent – and 2.6 per cent ahead of Britain’s 17.3 per cent expenditure.
Ireland’s total health spend in 2014 was a staggering €13.22billion (£10.35b).
The majority of this, €5.2b, went on acute care – meaning care for urgent or short term ailments.
A further €3.4b went on primary care services; while social care took up €2.6b of the budget.
Mental health spending was comparatively low at €716m.
The figures revealed that Ireland pumped more of its budget into the Health Service Executive (HSE) than Britain does into the NHS.
This is despite Ireland not having a free-to-use publicly funded system in place – instead an average GP visit in Ireland costs €50.
The Eurostat figures also revealed that Ireland also spends more than any other EU country on tackling unemployment – at 6.5 per cent versus the EU average of 3 per cent.
In the past four years, Ireland’s unemployment rate has fallen from the 2012 high of 15.1 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
But while the Irish Government prioritises healthcare and employment, it fell well behind its European counterparts when it came to spending money on the elderly.
The figures showed that Ireland’s government expenditure on old age was 9.6 per cent, including pensions.
This is less than half the EU average of 21.4 per cent.