Some 40% of New Zealand's medical workforce are from overseas, and only half are staying in the country for more than a year, a Medical Council study reveals.
Council's chairman Professor John Campbell says the high turnover is frustrating, given the time and money spent undertaking the obligatory supervision of new, overseas-trained doctors.
Professor Campbell says the high turnover increases the risk of recruiting medical professionals who do not meet New Zealand's standards, despite a careful screening process.
While it is accepted young British and American doctors will not stay long, he says, New Zealand needs to work hard to prevent specialists who obtain vocational registration in New Zealand returning home or going to Australia.
The figures were revealed in the Medical Council's study of the health workforce in 2008.