"There's no place like home": A pilot study of perspectives of international health and social care professionals working in the UK
Moran, A, Nancarrow, S & Butler, A 2005, '"There‟s no place like home": A pilot study of perspectives of international health and social care professionals working in the UK', Australian and New Zealand Health Policy, vol. 2, no. 25.
Published version available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1743-8462-2-25
Many countries are reporting health workforce shortages across a range of professions at a time of relatively high workforce mobility. Utilising the global market to supply shortage health skills is now a common recruitment strategy in many developed countries. At the same time a number of countries report a 'brain drain' resulting from professional people leaving home to work overseas. Many health and social care professionals make their way to the UK from other countries. This pilot study utilises a novel 'e-survey' approach to explore the motives, experiences and perspectives of non-UK health and social care professionals who were working or had worked in the UK. The study aims to understand the contributions of international health and social care workers to the UK and their 'home' countries. The purpose of the pilot study is also in part to test the appropriateness of this methodology for undertaking a wider study.
A 24-item questionnaire with open-ended and multiple choice questions was circulated via email to 10 contacts who were from a country outside the UK, had trained outside the UK and had email access. These contacts were requested to forward the email to other contacts who met these criteria (and so on). The email was circulated over a one month pilot period to 34 contacts. Responses were from physiotherapists (n = 11), speech therapists (n = 4), social workers (n = 10), an occupational therapist (n = 1), podiatrists (n = 5), and others (n = 3). Participants were from Australia (n = 20), South Africa (n = 10), New Zealand (n = 3) and the Republic of Ireland (n = 1). Motives for relocating to the UK included travel, money and career opportunities. Participants identified a number of advantages and disadvantages of working in the UK compared to working in their home country health system. Respondents generally reported that by working in the UK, they had accumulated skills and knowledge that would allow them to contribute more to their profession and health system on their return home.
This pilot study highlights a range of issues and future research questions for international learning and comparison for the health and social care professions as a result of international workforce mobility. The study also highlights the usefulness of an e-survey technique for capturing information from a geographically diverse and mobile group of professionals.