Why UK stopped recruitment of Nigerian doctors, nurses

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UK health employers have been prohibited from recruiting health and social care workers from Nigeria and 46 other countries going forward.

This was contained in the revised Code of Practice (CoP) released by the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

According to the UK government, the CoP is aimed at all health or social care organisations or recruitment agencies undertaking international recruitment.

In the revised CoP published on February 25, the UK government said that the code of practice promotes high standards of ethical practice in the international recruitment and employment of health and social care personnel.

“It also sets out the UK’s approach to supporting health and social care systems and workforce, alongside safeguards on active recruitment from countries with the most pressing universal health coverage related health and social care workforce needs,” the government said.

Explaining the decision to suspend recruitment from the 47 nations, the UK government said, “It is based on the principles set out in the World Health Organisation (WHO) global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. It refers to the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguard List of countries which must not be actively targeted by health or social care recruiters unless there is a government-to-government agreement in place to allow managed recruitment on the terms of the agreement.”

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The UK currently boasts of 5,250 Nigerian-trained doctors as of April 2018, a rise of 10 per cent on the previous year, Africa Check reports.

In a joint statement, Helen Whately MP, UK’s Minister of State for Care, and Wendy Morton MP, Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, highlighted the need for the revised CoP as concerns recruitment of international health and social workers.

The ministers noted that 16% of nurses and 36% of doctors in England trained outside of the United Kingdom (UK), while the social care sector employed 35% of nurses and 16% of all social care workers from beyond the UK.

The ministers expressed gratitude to the health and social care workers from abroad for their contributions to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) since its inception in 1948.

“Yet this government knows we need to do more so that our health and social care services continue to deliver world-class care. That is why we have committed to 50,000 more nurses and 50,000,000 more GP appointments. We are working hard to increase our homegrown supply of health and social care staff. We are training more, retaining more and encouraging staff who have left to return. But we know that ethical international recruitment is also crucial for achieving our commitments.

“We are determined to be a force for good in the world, which includes supporting better health and care beyond our shores. This code of practice is part of the UK’s contribution to international health worker mobility that offers benefits to migrants, their country of origin and to the UK. With a projected 18 million more health workers needed to achieve universal health coverage in low and lower-middle income countries – we need to work on a global basis to support healthier and more resilient populations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the reality that diseases know no borders. It is absolutely right that we work with the countries that have the most vulnerable health systems to protect their health and social care systems. It is also right that, alongside these safeguards, we draw on our strengths to help develop health workforces and health systems in other countries – and in doing so, help the world progress towards delivering universal health coverage and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Forming international partnerships is a great way to foster collective efforts across the world, and by working with international governments we can make sure everyone benefits,” the ministers said.

The affected countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo Democratic Republic of, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, among others.

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