Physicians' migration in Europe: an overview of the current situation

BMC Health Serv Res. 2007 Dec 10;7:201. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-7-201.


Background: The migration of medical professionals as a result of the expansion of the European Union is cause for concern. But there is a significant lack of information available about this phenomenon.

Methods: Search of secondary databases about the presence of european doctors working abroad, through two search engines in the Internet (Google and Pubmed) and a survey of professional organisations and regulators in countries of the European Union.

Results: The United Kingdom has more foreign doctors than all other European countries for which figures are available (Ireland, France, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Italy, Austria and Poland). Some 74,031 foreign doctors are registered in the UK, 30.94% of the total. European countries with the highest percentage of doctors working abroad are Ireland (47.5%, or 10,065 doctors) and Malta (23.1%, 376 doctors). The data obtained from Norway, France and Germany do not indicate an increase in the migration of professionals from countries recently incorporated into the EU.

Conclusion: There is significant mobility and heterogeneous distribution of doctors within the EEA and it should be cause for concern among health care authorities. However, there is no evidence about a possible increase in this phenomenon after the recent expansion of the EU.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Demography
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigration and Immigration / trends
  • Europe
  • European Union*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / standards
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / supply & distribution*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Surveys and Questionnaires