• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Number of Nigerian nurses working in UK jump 625% in one year

Nigerian-trained nurses working in the UK

The number of registered Nigerian-trained nurses in the UK has surged 625% in the six months leading to September last year, as revealed by a recent report from the UK Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The report shows that 12,099 Nigerian-educated nurses joined the UK workforce in the six months leading to September 2023, compared to the 1,670 registered nurses recorded during the same period in 2022.

“We’ve seen the number of professionals joining the register for the first time between April and September more than double in the last five years – from 14,311 joiners in the six months to September 2018 to 30,103 in the same period this year,” the NMC said.

The pace of international recruitment has also continued to grow, and in the last six months, 15,036 new internationally educated professionals joined the register, as many as those educated in the UK. Among them, 9.69 percent were Nigerian.

“In particular, we’ve seen a further jump in the number of joiners who were educated in red list countries where active recruitment isn’t permitted…including significant proportional rises in joiners from Ghana and Zambia, plus a steadily high number from Nigeria,” it said.

Despite a code of practice outlined by the Department of Health and Social Care, which states that employers in the sector should not actively recruit from “red list” countries, including Nigeria with a shortage of healthcare staff, the UK is overwhelmed with healthcare demands, and the NHS continually seeks to make up for staff shortfalls.

In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic period when the UK experienced a surge in demand for more healthcare workers, the Conservative government pledged to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 by 2025 and offered additional cost of living support of £5,000. It was in the same period that the Health and Care skilled worker visa was introduced to encourage international applications.

Recent figures show that the ‘Skilled Worker Health and Care’ visas granted almost doubled in 2023, representing a 91% increase to 146,477 compared with the previous year.

Back home, these applicants leave behind many vacant positions, as medical institutions struggle to meet the healthcare demands of a growing population.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is one of the countries deemed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to have a critical shortage of health workers.

According to the Nigerian Association of Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigeria’s nurse-to-patient ratio is one to 1,160 patients, which falls significantly short of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one nurse to five patients.

To address this shortage, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) announced that Nigerian nurses and midwives who want to work abroad must have at least two years of work experience after receiving their permanent practising license.

Faruk Abübakar, NMCN registrar and CEO, said nurses with provisional licenses would not be accepted in a circular on revised guidelines for the verification of certificate(s) with the council for practice abroad.

Nigerian nurses who want to relocate must have an active practising license with at least six months remaining before expiration, he stated.