Friday, September 10, 2010

Indian Healthcare Leads Employment Growth

In 2009 there were approximately 8400 Indian nationals working in Australia on temporary visas, with a significant number, if not the majority involved in the healthcare sector. An increasing number of Indian nationals work as nurses in Australian hospitals. Why is this? Because Australia is facing a severe shortage of labour in all sectors, including healthcare. This is not going to change in the next two decades, which means that if the Australian health sector is to continue to meet its performance targets then it will need to (a) attract more Australian qualified medical practitioners back into the sector, particularly registered nurses or (b) allow a greater number of immigrants to work in the sector.

Now here's the rub. India is an emerging nation. Its health sector has recorded annual growth of around 8-9% per annum in recent years, in line with sector growth of other emerging nations. A report into the Indian healthcare sector by India Brand Equity Foundation predicted the Indian health care sector will grow to US$280B by 2020. Biz India on their facebook page recently reported that India will generate almost 300,000 new jobs in healthcare in the next twelve months and increasing over the next few years. This is a nation that will need every healthcare worker it can get and increasingly it will become easier for Indian nationals to remain in India or return there to work in the Indian health sector.

The impact on Australia, and other Western nations that currently 'import' Indian nationals to work in their hospitals and general practices will be significant. They simply will not have sufficient numbers of people working in healthcare or prepared to enter the sector. The impact will be felt in many areas. Service delivery can only be fully delivered when there are sufficient people to do so. Where there are insufficient people in the sector, service delivery will be rationalised. This will impact mostly in rural and remote areas. Competition for health care workers will increase and this will force an increase in salaries and other benefits. This will be good for those involved in personal carer roles which are often at the bottom of the food chain. The problem is that within the public sector the money for paying labour is provided by Government from general taxation. As the population ages, the tax base reduces and thus there is less money available for funding healthcare at a time when the demand for service is greatest.

As the cost of labour increases so does the cost of service delivery. This creates greater rationing of services in the public sector as hospital managers strive to maintain service delivery costs within budgets. In the private sector it contributes to increase in the gap between health cost and health insurance cover. In both instances the cost is incurred by the taxpayer through increased costs and longer waiting lists. A headache for policy makers seeking to appease voters.

Which brings us to medical tourism. India is an English speaking nation, based upon democratic principals, leaving aside sectarial differences, much of its key health care facilities are high quality and many medical professionals are trained to Western nation standards - and they operate from a lower cost base.

Already thirteen Indian hospitals are accredited with Joint Commission International (JCI), the largest healthcare accrediation agency in the USA. In 2009 almost 500,000 visitors travelled to India for medical treatment, only 50% less than the number travelling to Thailand for the same reason and slightly more than travelled to Singapore. More than 50 Indian hospitals are currently undergoing accreditation with India's National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare.

Those that are most likely to travel overseas for treatment are those with high incomes and without private health cover or those with health cover and a high gap


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Fredrick M said...

really a great effort made, I will appreciate the mind used for this, Employment is a big issue now a days , to control and grow employment is great achievement.