Medical labour supply and the production of healthcare

Tom Lee, Carol Propper, George Stoye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Medical labour markets are important because of their size and the importance of medical labour in the production of healthcare and in subsequent patient outcomes. We present a summary of important trends in the UK medical labour market, and we review the latest research on factors that determine medical labour supply and the impact of labour on patient outcomes. The topics examined include: the responsiveness of labour supply to changes in wages, regulation and other incentives; factors that determine the wide variation in physician practice and style; and the effect of teams and management quality on patient outcomes. This literature reveals that while labour supply is relatively unresponsive to changes in wages, medical personnel do react strongly to other incentives, even in the short run. This is likely to have consequences for the quality of care provided to patients. We set out a series of unanswered questions in the UK setting, including: the importance of non-financial incentives in recruiting and retaining medical staff; how individuals can be incentivised to work in particular specialties and regions; and how medical teams can be best organised to improve care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-661
Number of pages41
JournalFiscal Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • healthcare production
  • I11
  • I18
  • J22
  • J24
  • J45
  • medical labour force
  • regulation

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