The development of human resources policies in the health sector of four Caribbean territories: the shift between 'push' and 'pull' factors

Abstract

Health systems are labour intensive, dependent on a mix of professionals to provide health care in both public and private sectors. In this paper, we explore the historical development of human resources, focusing on doctors and nurses, in four Caribbean territories-the Bahamas, Martinique, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. All these territories have faced issues around the out-migration of doctors and nurses and tensions between public health, hospital services and private sector policies. Early policies to increase the number of nurses and doctors were costly, because they were implemented against a tide of increasingoutward migration. Both push and pull factors were evident. Human resources policies focused on ways to counter pull factors-such as introducing regionalmedical training-but neglected push factors. These began to be addressed from the 1980s on, although tensions between public health, hospital services and private sector policies led to resistance and conflicts in attitudes to reform among health professionals. Policy responses were the product of many influences, and it is too simple to conclude they were either imported from abroad or internally generated. However, it is clear that in all four territories the medical profession played a dominant role in human resources policy development either directly or indirectly.

Citation

Health Policy 61 special issue: 31-47

The development of human resources policies in the health sector of four Caribbean territories: the shift between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors

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