Number of doctors qualified abroad doubles in France

The number of doctors working in France who qualified abroad has doubled in the past 10 years

The number of doctors working in France who qualified abroad has almost doubled in the past 10 years, and is helping to shore up the lack of French doctors in the short-term, according to a new study.

In January 2017, according to the study published this month, there were 26,805 registered doctors who had a non-French, European or non-European medical degree working in France, representing a 90% increase compared to 2007, reports French newspaper Le Monde today.

These doctors make up 11.8% of the total working regularly in French establishments (up 7.8% compared to 2007) and, Le Monde writes, “without them, a number of hospitals in France would quite simply not be able to function”.

By 2020, the number is expected to rise to over 30,000. 

The new report was part of a study published by the National Council for the Order of Doctors (Conseil national de l’ordre des médecins, CNOM), as it seeks to fight against growing numbers of medical ‘desertion’ - doctors leaving the profession in France.

In particular, the number of doctors who qualified in Romania and are now working in France has soared by 659% since 2007, with over 4,250 now counted.

This coincides with the country’s joining of the European Union the same year, and the number is expected to rise further still to over 4,700 by 2020. Romania itself is said to be facing “a real drain in qualified doctors”, due to the “catastrophically-low salaries” being offered in Romania.

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Similarly, the number of doctors with Algerian qualifications now registered as working in France has grown by 56% in 10 years, at 4,812, the report explained.

French hospitals are having problems attracting young French people into the medical profession, the report said, with the rise in the number of foreign doctors seen as a welcome, but only short-term, solution to the issue.

“[Although they are of huge service], those who come here do not necessarily go to the places where there is the most need,” explained Dr François Arnault, head of the issue at the CNOM, speaking to Le Monde.

For example, although the lack of new doctors is a problem across the whole of France, the three regions of la Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, l’Occitanie and l’Ile-de-France alone take up 29% of the doctors from abroad coming in.

“They are of significant service to our hospitals,” Arnault added, “But foreign doctors are not a long-term solution to the lack of doctors in France.”

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