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SHOCKING: UK bans Nigerian healthcare recruitment



united kingdom nigerian doctors

The United Kingdom has included Nigeria and 53 other countries on the red list of countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.

The announcement was made in the revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England. This move is aimed at preventing the increasing scale of health and social care worker migration from low and lower-middle-income countries, which threatens the achievement of their nation’s health and social care goals.

It is recommended that employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and contracting bodies check the red country list for updates before any recruitment drive. The code of practice applies to the appointment of all international health and social care personnel in the UK, including all permanent, temporary, and locum staff in clinical and non-clinical settings.

The revised code defines active international recruitment as the process by which UK health and social care employers (including local authorities), contracting bodies, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and sub-contractors target individuals to market UK employment opportunities, with the intention of recruiting to a role in the UK health or social care sector. It includes both physical or virtual targeting, and whether or not these actions lead to substantive employment.

The red and amber country list does not prevent individual health and social care personnel resident in countries on the list from making a direct application to health and social care employers. However, they will not be targeted by a third party, such as a recruitment organisation, agency, or recruitment collaboration.

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed Nigeria and other 54 countries on March 8, 2023, as facing the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage. Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan. There are currently 11,055 Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK, based on statistics obtained from the UK General Medical Council, the government body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners.

The UK, however, in its revised code of practice said the health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries that the WHO recognizes as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges, unless there is a government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities.

The countries placed on the red list of ‘No active recruitment’ in alphabetical order are Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Federated States of Micronesia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Republic of Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

This move by the UK government has generated mixed reactions from various quarters. While some Nigerians feel that it is a deliberate attempt to stifle the growth of the country’s health sector, others believe that it is a necessary measure to prevent the brain drain of skilled health workers from low-income countries.

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