In a move aimed at addressing the global shortage of healthcare workers and promoting ethical recruitment, the United Kingdom has announced a temporary ban on recruiting healthcare professionals from 54 countries, including Nigeria.
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.
India, Pakistan and Nigeria rank highest in the number of foreign medical doctors working in the UK.
The recruitment restrictions, which were announced by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, will come into effect on April 12, 2023, and will last for an initial period of three years. The affected countries are mostly low and middle-income countries and have been identified as having a critical shortage of healthcare workers.
The UK government has said that the move is aimed at protecting vulnerable healthcare systems in these countries, which are often under-resourced and struggling to cope with the demands of their own populations. The restrictions will also ensure that healthcare workers are not lured away from their home countries, where they are needed most.
“We recognize the important role that international health and care workers play in health and care service delivery in the UK and we are committed to ensuring that we recruit from overseas in an ethically responsible manner.
“Health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges unless there is government to government agreement to support managed recruitment activities,” according to a communiqué issued by the Department of Health and Social care.
Before conducting any recruitment drive, it is advised that employers, recruitment organizations, agencies, partnerships, and contractual bodies check the red country list for updates.
The code defined active international recruitment as the method by which UK health and social care employers (including local authorities), contracting bodies, recruitment organizations, agencies, collaborations, and subcontractors target people to market UK employment opportunities with the intention of hiring them for a position in the UK health or social care sector. Targeting can take place physically or virtually, and it can result in real employment or not.
However, some critics have argued that the ban could exacerbate the staffing shortages in the UK, which has also struggled to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in recent years.
Despite these concerns, the UK government has said that it remains committed to recruiting healthcare workers from overseas where necessary and will continue to do so from countries not affected by the ban.
The restrictions are part of a wider effort by the UK government to address the global shortage of healthcare workers and promote ethical recruitment practices following the WHO recommendations. Other measures include the introduction of a code of practice for international recruitment and the establishment of a new taskforce to promote best practice in ethical recruitment.
The countries affected in these restrictions 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.
Other countries are 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.