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Health professional mobility in the European Union: Exploring the equity and efficiency of free movement

Irene A. Glinos

Health Policy, 2015, vol. 119, issue 12, 1529-1536

Abstract: The WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel is a landmark in the health workforce migration debate. Yet its principles apply only partly within the European Union (EU) where freedom of movement prevails. The purpose of this article is to explore whether free mobility of health professionals contributes to “equitably strengthen health systems” in the EU. The article proposes an analytical tool (matrix), which looks at the effects of health professional mobility in terms of efficiency and equity implications at three levels: for the EU, for destination countries and for source countries. The findings show that destinations as well as sources experience positive and negative effects, and that the effects of mobility are complex because they change, overlap and are hard to pin down. The analysis suggests that there is a risk that free health workforce mobility disproportionally benefits wealthier Member States at the expense of less advantaged EU Member States, and that mobility may feed disparities as flows redistribute resources from poorer to wealthier EU countries. The article argues that the principles put forward by the WHO Code appear to be as relevant within the EU as they are globally.

Keywords: Health workforce; European Union; Free mobility of health professionals; Migration; Equity; WHO Code of Practice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:119:y:2015:i:12:p:1529-1536