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UK suspends Nigeria, 53 others from healthcare recruitment

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The United Kingdom (UK) has placed Nigeria and 53 other countries on a red list where active recruitment is not permitted for health and social care employers. This is coming days after a bill to lock in medical and dental practitioners passed second reading at the House of Representatives.

The announcement made last month, was contained in the revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel made available in England.

The red list, where Nigeria now falls, is drawn from the World Health Organisation (WHO) health workforce support and safeguards list.

“Countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List are graded red, which means no active recruitment is permitted from these countries,” it said.

It said if a government-to-government agreement is put in place between the UK and a partner country, it will restrict UK employers, contracting bodies, recruitment organisations, agencies and collaborations to the terms of the agreement.

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“The country will be added to the amber list and recruitment can happen only on the terms of the agreement. The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List is updated by WHO every 3 years, or more frequently if required,” it said.

The suspended countries 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.

The UK defined active international recruitment in the code 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.

According to the General Medical Council, the number of Nigerian registered doctors in the UK grew by 82 percent to 10,660 in 2022 from 5,856 in 2018.

For nurses, it rose by 1,404.5 percent to 1,670 in April to September this year from 111 in the same period of 2018, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.