Skip to main content Accessibility help

Anaesthesia workforce in Europe

  • C. B. Egger Halbeis (a1), K. Cvachovec (a2), P. Scherpereel (a3), J. Mellin-Olsen (a4), L. Drobnik (a5) and A. Sondore (a6)...


Background and objective

The European anaesthesia workforce is facing increased demand and expansion of the labour market, which may likely exceed supply. This survey assesses the numbers and practice patterns of anaesthesiologists and studies migration and shortage of the anaesthesia workforce in Europe.


A questionnaire was sent to all national European anaesthesia societies. Countries were grouped according to their relationship with the European Union.


The number of anaesthesiologists per 100 000 population varies between 2.7 (Turkey) and 20.7 (Estonia). There seems to be no clear evidence for feminization of the anaesthesia workforce. Anaesthesia physician training lasts between 3 yr (Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan) and 7 yr (Ireland, UK), and seems to positively correlate with the number of trainees. Throughout Europe, anaesthesiologists typically work in public practice, and are involved in the entire care chain of surgical patients (anaesthesia, intensive care, chronic pain and pre-hospital emergency medicine). The differences between European salaries for anaesthesiologists are up to 50-fold. Most Western European countries are recipients of migrating anaesthesiologists who often originate from the new member states of the European Union. However, it seems that expectations about anaesthesia workforce shortages are not confined to Eastern Europe.


Each European country has its own unique workforce constellation and practice pattern. Westward migration of anaesthesiologists from those countries with access to the European Union labour market may be explained by substantial salary differences. There is a European-wide lack of systematic, comparable data about the anaesthesia workforce, which makes it difficult to accurately assess the supply of anaesthesiologists.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Christoph Benedikt Egger Halbeis, Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-H5640, USA. E-mail:; Tel: +1 650 723 6411; Fax: +1 650 725 8544


Hide All
1.Clergue, F, Auroy, Y, Pequignot, F et al. . Evolution of the anaesthetic workload-the French experience. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol 2002; 16: 459473.
2.Pontone, S, Brouard, N, Scherpereel, P, Boulard, G, Arduin, P. Demography of French anaesthesiologists. Results of a national survey by the French College of Anaesthesiologists (CFAR) and the French National Society of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care (SFAR), supported by the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED). Eur J Anaesthesiol 2004; 21: 398407.
3.Rolly, G, MacRae, WR, Blunnie, WP, Dupont, M, Scherpereel, P. Anaesthesiological manpower in Europe. Eur J Anaesthesiol 1996; 13: 325332.
4. United Nations PD. World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Population Database. United Nations, 2004.
5.Vickers, MD. Non-physician anaesthetists: can we agree on their role in Europe? Eur J Anaesthesiol 2000; 17: 537541.
6. Commission E. Enlargement – Transitional Provisions. European Commission, 2006.
7.Egger Halbeis, CB, Macario, A. Factors affecting supply and demand of anesthesiologists in Western Europe. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol 2006; 19: 207212.
8.Vakkuri, A, Niskanen, M, Meretoja, OA, Alahuhta, S. Allocation of tasks between anesthesiologists and anesthesia nurses in Finland. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 2006; 50: 659663.
9. OECD. The Supply of Physician Services in OECD Countries. DELSA/HEA/WD/HWP(2006)1, 2006.
10.Baerlocher, MO, Hussain, R, Bradley, J. Gender patterns amongst Canadian anesthesiologists. Can J Anaesth 2006; 53: 437441.
11. Ústav zdravotnických informací a statistiky České republiky. Krajský odbor hl. m. Prahy. Zdravotnická ročenka = Health statistics yearbook. [Praha]: Ústav zdravotnických informací a statistiky, 2001.
12. Den norske lægeforening. Prosent kvinner av alle godkjente spesialister etter spesialitet 1950–2006. 2006.
13.Pontone, S, Brouard, N, Scherpereel, P, Boulard, G, Arduin, P. Anesthesiologists in France. First results of the national survey conducted in 1999 by the French College of Anesthesiologist, The French National Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care with the scientific support of the National Institute for Demographic Studies. Ann Fr Anesth Reanim 2002; 21: 779806. Jong, JD, Heiligers, P, Groenewegen, PP, Hingstman, L. Part-time and full-time medical specialists, are there differences in allocation of time? BMC Health Serv Res 2006; 6: 26.
15.Mullan, F. The metrics of the physician brain drain. N Engl J Med 2005; 353: 18101818.
16.Ahmad, OB. Managing medical migration from poor countries. BMJ 2005; 331: 4345.
17.Scherpereel, P, Sondore, A. The evolution of human resource needs in Europe. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol 2002; 16: 443457.
18.Stilwell, B, Diallo, K, Zurn, P et al. . Migration of health-care workers from developing countries: strategic approaches to its management. Bull World Health Org 2004; 82: 595600.
19.Vujicic, M, Zurn, P, Diallo, K, Adams, O, Dal Poz, MR. The role of wages in the migration of health care professionals from developing countries. Hum Resour Health 2004; 2: 3.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Anaesthesia workforce in Europe

  • C. B. Egger Halbeis (a1), K. Cvachovec (a2), P. Scherpereel (a3), J. Mellin-Olsen (a4), L. Drobnik (a5) and A. Sondore (a6)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.