Nigerians among 5 largest employees in UK healthcare

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Nigerians working in UK hospitals

By Bethel Olujobi

The UK National Health Service (NHS) has identified Nigerians as one of its five largest employees, according to a recent report. The tabular ranking, which organised NHS workforce according to nationality, places Nigeria in top 5 among 101 countries. The report indicates that there are up to 10,494 Nigerians currently working in the NHS, trailing closely behind Poland, which has 10,520 health workers employed in the Service. The United Kingdom tops the list with over 1.1 million employed professionals, followed by India– the highest migrant country to the UK– with 32,117 workers. It is worth noting that the number of employed health professionals in the UK NHS has decreased according to data from the previous year.

Last year, it was reported that the United Kingdom granted visas to a total of 18,224 Nigerian health and care workers in one year, according to official data from the British government. Earlier this year, it was also revealed that a total of 18,143 care workers and home carers left Nigeria to seek employment in the United Kingdom in 2023, joining India and Zimbabwe as the non-EU countries with the most care workers and home carers in the UK. However, emotions ran high as the UK government recently enforced strict new visa rules on overseas care workers this year to cut down on the country’s migration numbers. Effectively, foreign care workers were prohibited from bringing their loved ones or dependents to the UK from March 11, and the minimum income requirement for family visas was raised 61 percent to £29,000, which is expected to rise to £38,700 in early 2025.

This has contributed to the UK experiencing a shortage in applications from overseas health professionals, especially from non-EU countries.

New data revealed Wednesday tell of a 76 percent drop in applications from foreign health and care workers for UK work visas. In the first four months of 2024, the number of skilled worker route applications fell by over three-quarters to 12,400 compared with the same period in 2023.

In Nigeria, there are just over 3,000 doctors produced annually according to the ministry of health, which remains highly inadequate to meet healthcare needs –Nigeria being the sixth most populous country in the world.

Shortage of health manpower here is estimated at 18 million people. Last year, Tunji Alausa, the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, announced plans to double the population of its medical and dental doctors from 5,000 to 10,000 by the next academic year by increasing admission into medical and dental institutions. Also, to fight back brain drain, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) now requires nurses in the country to have two years of post-qualification experience before verification of their certificates can be approved to enable them seek employment overseas.

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