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Health manpower planning in European Union countries: explaining cross national variation.

Martins-Coelho, G. Health manpower planning in European Union countries: explaining cross national variation. Abstract. In: Book of Abstract of Working Conference Health Services Research in Europe 'Where Research and Policy Meet', 8-9 april 2010, Den Haag. 158-159
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Introduction: Human resources for health are critical for the performance of health care systems, in organizational, demographic and economic terms. They currently face challenges related to the progressive ageing of the European population, the epidemiological transition and the permanent technological evolution. However, human resources for health are the least strategically planned element in most health care systems, being most of the times managed as a mere administrative function. This results in: insufficient numbers of available health professionals; unemployed or under-employed health personnel; inadequate or inappropriate training of workers for the jobs they are expected to do; and poor functional and geographic distribution of the workforce. Health manpower planning assumes a prominent role in a health care system as a tool to mitigate these problems. There is a number of approaches available for health manpower planning: models of care or service target based; needs based; utilization or demand based; effective need based; health workforce to population ratio; effective infrastructure; and adjusted service target approach. Yet little is known about which methods are chosen by European Union (EU) countries and why. Identifying, describing and comparing such methods can inform which manpower planning approaches are being used by different health care systems to tackle the same problem: how to provide the best care at the lowest cost; it can also help to more effectively address the issue of global migration of highly qualified health workers. Goal: The global objective of this study is to identify and characterize health manpower planning approaches applied by EU countries and to explain cross-national variation found. This goal will be addressed through an international comparative analysis. This study design will also contribute to identifying the best practices of health manpower planning and exploring how the most effective tools can be applied within different contexts. By this project, we aim to elaborate a chart of health manpower planning models in the EU, to identify factors that explain the cross-national variation found, and to relate health manpower planning to health labour market situation. Our study will provide a knowledge base that can be used by each country to improve its own planning strategies by learning from international beneficial experience. (aut. ref.)