• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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16,153 Nigerian medical professionals get UK work visas in one year

The number of health and care workers from Nigeria granted work visas by the United Kingdom has more than tripled within a year.

The data from the British government on Thursday, shows that the number under the skilled work visa (health and care category) rose by 263.7 percent (16,153) to 22,278 in year ending June 2023 from 6,125 in year ending 2022.

The information on its website also highlighted that Africa’s biggest economy recorded the second largest percentage increase (263.7 percent) behind Zimbabwe (372 perent).

In terms of dependants granted health and care work visas, Nigeria’s number grew by 374 percent from 7,452 to 35,330.

Experts say the rise in the number of healthcare workers 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.

Read also: Only over 9,000 doctors left in Nigeria on surging ‘japa’ pressure – NARD

In 2020, the 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.

Africa’s most populated nation has in recent years seen a mass exodus of talent, popularly called ‘japa’ (a Yoruba word for “run quickly”), which has led to the dearth of skilled workers in the health sector.

High poverty, unemployment, poor human capital development, insecurity and poor education are some of the major reasons many Nigerians are leaving the country in search of greener pastures.

And seeking higher education abroad has now become a major means of permanent emigration.

A recent report by Phillips Consulting Limited showed that more than half of Nigerian highly skilled employees plan to quit their jobs and relocate abroad next year.

Read also:How to bring back doctors, health professionals who left Nigeria – Pate

The report, which surveyed 1,054 Nigerian adults aged 18 or older between August 24 and September 3, 2022, said 22 percent plan to migrate abroad within the next two-three years, while 26 percent are still determining their plans or have no intention of relocating abroad.

“The finance and insurance, professional services, and IT sectors are expected to be hit the hardest. The migration of skilled workers could significantly impact the performance of these sectors and the overall economy,” it said.

Others are reduced skilled workforce, decreased tax revenue, and the loss of talented and skilled personnel, increased pressure on foreign exchange demand and loss of trade and tourism.