The Looming Crisis in the Health Workforce: how can OECD countries respond?
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, health policy
This health policy study analyses international migration and education of health workers, and their interaction, in the context of other workforce policies, focusing on doctors and nurses. Moreover it discusses other health workforce policies aiming at an efficient use of existing health resources, and the international equity implications of migration. Policy options to address the shortage in OECD countries are discussed.
Supply of doctors and training capacity has fluctuated in OECD countries in recent years. On current trends, there is likely to be a shortage in the next 20 years. Training capacity, for both doctors and nurses, should be maintained; international recruitment of health workers may provide short-term solutions, but it can make OECD countries too dependent on supply of foreign medical and nursing graduates and have negative implications on origin countries, exacerbating existing shortages.
Other policy options to explore include improving retention, adopting a more efficient skills mix, improving productivity,
Possible solutions to address structural imbalances between the supply of and the demand for health professionals do not carry equal weight, since implementing them involves trade-offs between different policy objectives, both at domestic and international levels. A strong case can therefore be made for better international coordination, monitoring and communication about health workforce policy and movements of health professionals across countries.