What are best practices to address brain drain of health workers?

What are best (regional) practices when it comes to addressing brain drain – i.e. the emigration of skilled workers, including health workers – and what action is needed on EU level? With this open consultation, the European Commission is interested in feedback on the scale and dynamics of brain drain, and in successful practices and regional strategies and policies to tackle the emigration of qualified workers. Wemos has provided input to the consultation. We recommend, for example, that EU Member States use existing instruments to implement policies and strategies based on evidence, to strengthen their health workforce.

Over the next decade, several EU Member States and regions are facing population decline, caused by factors such as low fertility rates and net emigration. Brain drain undermines the growth potential of the concerned regions as well as the provision of essential services, such as healthcare.

“Based on our research for two Wemos-led projects on human resources for health – AHEAD and Pillars of Health – we concluded that it is difficult to find up-to-date, complete, accurate and systematically collected data on health worker mobility and migration, as well as their consequences on (inequalities in) health care access. However, there are many projects and organisations working on the topic, including several EU level mechanisms that provide support for implementing EU level actions and recommendations, such as EU4Health and Horizon Europe,” says Aysel Rahimli, Wemos’ project coordinator for AHEAD and Pillars of Health.

 “As Wemos, we are happy to be able highlight the relevance of our two projects through our contribution to the consultation. While the consultation focuses on all labour market sectors within the EU, with our input we want to draw attention to the fact that human resources are essential workers in the EU labour market, and the ‘pillars’ of health systems. Sound policy strategies to mitigate the harmful effects of brain drain of health workers in specific regions are therefore crucial.”

As such, some of our recommendations on EU level include:

  • The European Commission should establish an Observatory for Health Worker Migration and Mobility to improve data availability and quality, monitor and analyse trends in the EU’s single market environment.
  • EU Member States should use existing EU instruments such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility and Cohesion Funds to implement policies and strategies based on evidence, to strengthen their health workforce, including deployment in underserved areas and for vulnerable populations, and the implementation of evidence-based retention schemes.

Read our contribution to the EU Commission’s public consultation.

Photo: by Luis Mendelez via Unsplash

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