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The Looming Crisis in the Health Workforce

How Can OECD Countries Respond?

image of The Looming Crisis in the Health Workforce

In a world which is already characterised by significant international migration of health workers, OECD countries face a challenge in responding to the growing demand for doctors and nurses over the next 20 years. This book provides new information on the migration of health workers and migration policies and identifies possible ways forward. It is the main outcome of a joint OECD-WHO project on the management of health-related human resources and international migration.

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Health Workforce Demographics

An Overview

This chapter presents data on the health workforces in OECD countries, including cross-country variation, past trends, and projections over the next 20 years. On average, there has been a prolonged growth in physician and nurse density in OECD countries over the past 30 years but the growth rates have slowed sharply since the early 1990s. Cost containment policies, such as control of entry into medical school in the case of doctors, and closure of hospital beds in the case of nurses, may explain much of the slowdown. By 2000, several OECD countries were reporting shortages of doctors and nurses and some countries published projections of the supply and demand for doctors suggesting that as a result of the anticipated retirement of health workers and increasing demand for their services, shortages would increase unless training rates were raised. Meanwhile, UN population projections suggest that between 2005 and 2025, younger age cohorts in the population will shrink in many OECD countries.

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