Drivers of international migration of doctors to and from the United Kingdom

What were the key findings?

  • Migration drivers and barriers have been coded into macro-level (global and national), meso-level (professional) and micro-level (personal) factors. The decision for a doctor to migrate is multi-layered and is often a complex balance of these different factors.
  • Reasons for overseas qualified doctors coming to work in the UK include perceived better employment opportunities and working conditions, more training and development opportunities, and a better overall quality of life.
  • The barriers to migration to the UK include stricter immigration policies, the complexities of the registration process, and perceiving the healthcare system as difficult to enter. Professional and personal concerns include worries about a new working environment, lack of support and language difficulties.
  • Despite career progression being one of the key drivers for joining the UK workforce, migrating doctors report finding it difficult to progress within the UK healthcare system.
  • Many of the key drivers of migration to the UK, for example better working conditions, were also factors driving migration from the UK and into other countries.
  • Reasons for doctors leaving the UK include poor working conditions in the NHS, feeling professionally undervalued, and the desire for a better quality of life.

Why did we undertake this research?

This research, carried out by The University of Plymouth, was commissioned to help understand what is driving the migration of doctors to better anticipate and respond to emerging trends affecting recruitment and retention.

What did the research involve?

  • Analysis of GMC and external data on the migration patterns of doctors to and from the UK between 2009-2019.
  • A systematic review of the literature on the drivers and barriers to the migration of doctors.
  • 18 depth interviews with organisations involved in workforce planning in the UK and internationally.

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Drivers of international migration research