BusinessDay

Number of Nigerian nurses in UK up 25% in six months

The number of Nigerian-trained nurses in the United Kingdom rose by 25.2 percent in the six months to September 2022, new data show.

According to the latest mid-year register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates from Nigeria grew to 1,670 as of September this year, highest in five years, from 1,334 in the same period of 2021.

“Active recruitment isn’t permitted from ‘red list’ countries*, yet there are two – Nigeria and Ghana – in the 10 most common countries of training for professionals joining our register,” it said.

It said compared to the same period last year, there has been a 25.2 percent increase in professionals from Nigeria and a 61.6 percent increase from those from Ghana.

The rise in the number of Nigerian nurses migrating to the UK can be attributed to the cheap and easy entry migration requirements of the country, which is facing severe shortage of healthcare workers especially in its National Healthcare system due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The staff shortages have been front and centre for the UK’s successive governments, making the country a net importer of healthcare professionals.

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In 2020, the new Conservative government pledged to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 over the next five years, and offered additional cost of living support of £5,000.

Additionally, in that year, the country announced a Health and Care Visa policy, which aims to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to migrate to the UK.

Experts say the growing migration of nurses could lead to negative consequences for the country’s struggling health sector that does not have enough nurses to cater for its expanding population.

The unavailability of nurses to cater for the population has put a strain on the quality of care that is administered at the different healthcare facilities in the country, consultants at Vesta Healthcare said in a recent presentation.

“There are about an estimated 125,000 nurses in Nigeria. This is almost six times lower than the recommended number of 800,000 by the firm,” they said.

They added that patients are usually left unsatisfied with the care provided to them because the nurses available have to cater for several other patients’ simultaneously.

Nurses play an most important role in the healthcare system since they are always with patients at every stage of the care process, tending to them, counselling the ill and improving healthcare processes.

The shortage of nurses lead to errors, higher morbidity, and mortality rates. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world, with 117 deaths per 1,000 live births.