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UK Government Criticised For Failing To Take Action On Global Health Crisis

The UK government failed to commit to addressing the critical global shortage of health workers, despite over 50 other governments making commitments at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, a meeting to address the crisis organised by the World Health Organization.

 

The UK is a prime destination for internationally trained health workers, often from poor countries. The UK government's lack of action to address the health worker 'brain drain', accept responsibility as a destination country or consider compensation to countries that pay for the training of health workers who then migrate to the UK, was today criticised by international development organisation Health Poverty Action.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Health Workforce Alliance report that by 2035 the world will be 12.9 million health workers short. There are now 83 countries with a critical shortage of health workers, with Sub-Saharan Africa facing the most acute shortages.

The migration of health workers to the UK has created a brain drain that undermines the health systems of developing countries, which in many cases paid to train them. It also undermines the work of the UK's Department for International Development to support health systems in developing countries.

The UK has recently seen a rise in nursing vacancies and in the recruitment of nurses from overseas which has prompted calls for the UK to take urgent action to compensate countries that are suffering from the health worker brain drain. This week's Third Global Forum for Human resources provided a platform for countries to deliver commitments to address this crisis. Over 50 commitments were made, but the UK did not make any commitment.

Martin Drewry, Director of Health Poverty Action, said:

"The UK's Department for International Development says it is committed to supporting health systems in poor countries, yet the irony is many of these countries are in fact providing huge support to the UK's health service. Given the rise in overseas recruitment, it is vital that the Departments of Health and International Development coordinate urgent action to compensate those countries whose health systems are suffering as a result of the brain drain."

A report on the global health worker crisis by Health Poverty Action can be found here

 

 

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