Health professional mobility on the European agenda

The international recruitment and migration of physicians, nurses and other health workers has been a growing feature of the global health environment in recent years.

Speaking at the Subregional Policy Dialogue on Health Professional Mobility in Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest yesterday, Hans Kluge, Director, Division of Health Systems and Public Health, WHO/Europe, stressed the relevance of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel for the European Union (EU) and wider WHO European Region.

Hans Kluge also emphasized the need to strengthen or establish health workforce information systems, including information on migration, in order to collect, analyse and translate data into effective health workforce policies and plans.

A research project funded by the European Commission on health professional mobility in the EU (PROMeTHEUS), begun in 2009, is striving to improve information on this issue. The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies released the initial results of this project today. The initial findings show that, although workforce flows overall have increased only moderately so far in the 17 EU countries studied, some countries have experienced greater changes.

Figures from 2008 indicate that physicians from another country comprise more than 10% of doctors in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (up to 37%), while reliance on nurses from another country exceeds 10% of the nursing workforce in Austria, Ireland (up to 47%), Italy and the United Kingdom.

The Subregional Policy Dialogue on Health Professional Mobility in Central and Eastern Europe is one of a series of events organized by the Government of Hungary, currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.