Britain’s reliance on foreign health staff blamed for crisis in poor countries

Migration of workers is so great that ‘its impact cancels out the benefits of international aid’

Britain has been guilty of fuelling a “brain drain” of health workers from some of the world’s poorest countries that threatens to reverse gains in global disease control, a leading charity has warned.

Rich countries collectively save billions of pounds every year by taking on doctors, nurses and midwives who were trained overseas, said a report by Health Poverty Action (HPA).

One of the main destinations has been the UK. About a third of doctors registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) were trained abroad, and more than a quarter were trained outside Europe. The charity said that in some cases the impact of migration on health workers’ home countries was so great that it cancelled out the benefits gained from international aid from wealthier nations.

Africa is hardest hit, with only 3 per cent of the world’s health workforce practising on a continent that carries almost a quarter of the world’s total  disease burden, the charity said.

Martin Drewry, the director of the HPA, said yesterday: “There is already a global shortage in health workers, and unless we take urgent action, it will get worse.”

The World Health Organisation has estimated there is an international shortage of around four million healthcare workers.

Demand for staff, coupled with higher wages and better quality of life, have been major pull factors attracting healthcare workers to the UK from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana for decades. “The NHS has a long history of recruiting doctors from overseas to fill gaps in vital specialties, such as emergency-care medicine,” said a spokesperson for the British Medical Association. “These make a valuable contribution to patient care.”

 It costs just under £270,000 to train someone to junior doctor level. The cost of training the more than 60,000 international medical graduates on the GMC register to junior doctor level would be about £17bn. Nearly 85,000 nurses and midwives working in the UK were trained overseas – around one in every seven.

NHS employers pledged in 2001 to refrain from “active recruitment” of health professionals in developing countries. But Health Poverty Action said that more must be done to compensate poorer countries for the impact of losing so many key workers.

The warning comes in the wake of a report, commissioned by the Government, into the impact of abuse of the NHS by migrants. It was estimated that the UK could save £500m a year by reclaiming money owed from patient’s home countries.

The number of actual “health tourists”, those who come to the UK with the intention of getting free healthcare they are not entitled to, was estimated to be as low as 5,000 and at most 20,000, and the cost of such activity was estimated to be between £60m and £80m.

While healthcare professionals are flocking here, many home-trained GPs are going in the opposite direction. Increased workloads and poorer wages are thought to be to blame, with most GPs leaving for Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
VIDEO
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit