The United Kingdom has placed Nigeria and 53 other countries on the red list of countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.
The World Health Organization had on March 8, 2023, listed Nigeria and other 54 countries as facing the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage.
Already, there was an attempt by members of the House of Representatives to pass a law that would prevent medical doctors from seeking job outside the country until after five years.
The UK announcement was contained in the revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England.
It is recommended that employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and contracting bodies check the red country list for updates before any recruitment drive.
It 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.
The code of practice applies to the appointment of all international health and social care personnel in the UK, including all permanent, temporary, and locum staff in clinical and non-clinical settings.
This includes but is not limited to allied health professionals, care workers, dentists, doctors, healthcare scientists, medical staff, midwives, nursing staff, residential and domiciliary care workers, social workers, and support staff.
The UK had in 2021 suspended the recruitment of healthcare workers from Nigeria and 46 other countries, noting that the increasing scale of health and social care worker migration from low and lower-middle-income countries threatens the achievement of their nation’s health and social care goals.
The red and amber country list does not, however, prevent individual health and social care personnel resident in countries on the list from making a direct application to health and social care employers, but rather without being targeted by a third party, such as a recruitment organisation, agency or recruitment collaboration.
The PUNCH reports that 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.
Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India, and Pakistan.
The UK, however, in its revised code of practice said the health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries the WHO recognises as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges unless there is a government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities.
The countries placed on the red list of ‘No active recruitment’ in alphabetical order 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.