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Health Workforce Policies in OECD Countries

Right Jobs, Right Skills, Right Places

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Health workers are the cornerstone of health systems, playing a central role in providing health services to the population and improving health outcomes. The demand and supply of health workers have increased over time in all OECD countries, with jobs in the health and social sector accounting for more than 10% of total employment now in several OECD countries. This publication reviews key trends and policy priorities on health workforce across OECD countries, with a particular focus on doctors and nurses given the preeminent role that they have traditionally played in health service delivery.

 

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Trends and policies affecting the international migration of doctors and nurses to OECD countries

This chapter examines recent trends in the migration of foreign-trained doctors and nurses in OECD countries and some of the policies that have affected these migration patterns. Between 2000 and 2014, the immigration of foreign-trained doctors and nurses increased in most OECD countries, although the number has generally slowed down in recent years as the number of domestically-trained doctors and nurses has steadily increased. Nevertheless, foreign-trained doctors and nurses have contributed to the overall increase in the number of doctors and nurses working in OECD countries since 2000. There have also been changes in the countries of origin of foreign-trained doctors and nurses, particularly in Europe. Some European countries that have recently become EU members and those particularly hard hit by the recession have experienced an important increase in the emigration (outflows) of their doctors and nurses to other European countries, seeking better job opportunities. While in some cases, this emigration might have helped to reduce the number of unemployed or under-employed doctors and nurses, in other cases, it exacerbated shortages of certain categories of doctors and nurses. This has prompted some countries, notably in Central and Eastern Europe, to take measures to increase the retention rates of doctors and nurses, including pay raises and improvements in working conditions.

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