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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.
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