Health worker mobility: Challenges and opportunities for the Commonwealth

Francesca Colombo
Francesca Colombo
Head of Health Division, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

“Commonwealth members figure among the top countries of destination, as well as the top countries of origin, with respect to both the number and the share of migrant doctors and nurses.”

Health systems around the world are increasingly confronted with an internationally mobile health workforce. A 2019 analysis for the OECD area (comprising 36 countries including a number in Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) reveals that the number and share of foreign-trained doctors – and in some countries foreign-trained nurses – continued rising over the previous decade, reaching, on average, nearly 20 per cent of doctors and six per cent of nurses by 2017. Commonwealth members figure among the top countries of destination, as well as the top countries of origin, with respect to both the number and the share of migrant doctors and nurses.

Australia, New Zealand and the UK are the most important destination countries for foreigntrained health professionals. The UK has traditionally attracted the largest absolute numbers – somewhat surpassed only by the US – with nearly 30 per cent (over 50,000) of its doctors and 15 per cent (over 100,000) of its nurses, educated abroad as of the end of 2018. These shares have remained stable over the past decade...

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