How can countries address the efficiency and equity implications of health professional mobility in Europe?



The health workforce is a key contributor to health system performance. Shortages, mal-distribution and skill-mismatches of health professionals can have immediate consequences for the efficiency and equity of health systems. The in- and outflows of health professionals change the composition of the health workforce in both source and destination countries, and may improve or aggravate health workforce problems.
In the European Union, EU health professionals are free to move and seek work in any Member State. Intra-EU mobility is increasing; some countries rely on foreign inflows while other Member States experience important outflows.  At the global level, the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel calls on countries to mitigate the negative effects of migration and encourage positive ones.

This brief analyses the impact of free mobility of health professionals for destination countries, source countries and the EU as a whole, and presents the policy tools which decision-makers can use to address its effects on efficiency and equity.  While health professional mobility is not in itself "good" or "bad", targeted well-conceived policy measures can make it work better.