How often did Europeans consult a doctor in 2021?

August 29, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic placed medical professionals under intense pressure and impacted access to consultations in many other specialities not related to COVID-19. In 2021, the frequency of medical consultations varied widely among the EU members. The average number of doctor consultations per inhabitant ranged between 3.5 and 7.8 in most EU members (except for Malta, for which data were not available).

Among the EU members, Slovakia presented the highest averages of medical doctor consultations, recording 11.0 consultations per inhabitant, followed by Germany (9.6), Hungary (9.5), the Netherlands (8.6) and Czechia (7.8).

On the other hand, the lowest averages of medical doctor consultations were registered in Sweden (2.3 consultations per inhabitant), Greece (2.7), Portugal (3.5), Denmark (3.8), Finland and Estonia (both 4.1).

Compared with the 2018-2020 annual average, the average number of doctor consultations decreased in 19 of the 24 EU members for which data were available. The exceptions were Latvia, with an increase of 5%, Slovakia, Poland and Austria (+3%) and Czechia (+1%).

Meanwhile, the largest decreases in the average number of doctor consultations were registered in Italy (-39%), Lithuania (-24%), Spain (-20%), Estonia (-19%) and Hungary (-8%).

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Methodological notes:

  • Statistics on the average number of consultations that people have with a physician include consultations at the physician’s office, in the patient’s home, or out-patient departments of hospitals or ambulatory health care centres. These figures exclude consultations/visits during treatment as part of in-patient or day care patient care in a hospital or similar institution. In general, they also exclude remote consultations, such as by telephone.
  • Malta: data not available.
  • Slovakia, the Netherlands: Also including telephone consultations.
  • Germany: Only including cases of physician treatments according to reimbursement regulations.
  • Austria: Also including telephone consultations from 2020. Only including visits to doctors with contracts with the health insurance providers.
  • Ireland: 2018–2019 instead of 2018–2020. Estimate. Also including telephone consultations. Persons aged 15 or over only. 2021: data not available.
  • Italy: Estimates.
  • Luxembourg: provisional data for 2021.
  • Spain: 2019–2020 instead of 2018–2020.
  • Portugal: Excluding medical consultations in a patient’s home and consultations at a physician’s office.
  • Cyprus: 2018: only including hospitals and health centres of the public sector. 2019: limited to outpatient consultations of hospitals and health centres of the public sector during part of the year. 2020: returned to coverage of 2018 but extended to also include consultations of physicians practising in the private sector under the General Health Scheme. 2021: data not available.