Health Workers Migration: What To Know About UK’s Red List


It is undoubtedly a hard time for Nigerian health workers seeking to migrate and work in the United Kingdom (UK), as the UK authorities have placed Nigeria on its red listof countries that should not be targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.

Well, this development has been making the round on social media and here are five things you should know about it.

1. What does the red list mean for Nigerian health professionals?

This means that Nigerian health workers have been banned from migrating and practising in the UK.

2. Why is Nigeria on the Red List?

The UK’s decision was followed by the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s alert urging nations with more human resources for health to avoid hiring from those with few workers.

Also, the Uk, in its recently revised ‘Code of Practice for the international recruitment of Health and social care personnel in England,’ stated that it recognised a projected global shortage of 10 million health workers to achieve universal health coverage in low and lower-middle-income countries by 2030, and would continue to support quality health for its people and the rest of the world.

3. Is Nigeria the only country placed on the Red List?

The countries in the red list include 41 from Africa, six from Oceania, five from Asia, and two from American countries.

4. Is there any condition that can make counties on the Red List Practice in the UK?

The only exception is when there is a government-to-government agreement, which implies that Nigerian health professionals seeking to migrate and work in the UK will need the permission of the country.

5. What is the Nigerian Government saying about the development?

As of the time of filing this report, there has not been a reaction from the Nigerian government.

However, recently, a Medical and Dental Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill 2022 was proposed seeking to make it compulsory for graduates in medical and dental fields to render services within Nigeria for five years before being granted a full license.

The bill, sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson (APC/Lagos), is meant to halt the continued migration of medical professionals from the country.

6. What determines which countries are added to the Red List?

According to the World Health Organisation, (WHO), countries on the red list are countries that require priority support for health workforce development and health system strengthening, and this requires limited active international recruitment.

7. What are health professionals in Nigeria saying about the development?

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have said that the United Kingdom’s red list cannot stop the movement of its members from migrating to other nations.

Reacting to the development in an interview with Punch, the NMA President, Dr Uche Ojinmah, disclosed that the poor treatment of Nigerian doctors makes them seek greener pastures.

“I don’t actually begrudge the UK for recruiting Nigerian doctors because it’s the poor treatment they are getting from Nigeria that’s pushing them away.

“If the Nigerian government and people place a premium on Nigerians, they obviously won’t migrate.

“It is okay that the UK is placing us on the lower rungs for recruitment but what about the United States of America, Canada, Grenada, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Germany, etc?

“Nobody can take away the freedom of movement; it’s a fundamental right. They can only define the terms”, he stated.

Additionally, the NARD President, Dr Emeka Orji, said doctors can always choose other nations apart from the UK to migrate to.

“The truth is that it is not only the UK that Nigerian health workers go to and even with this list, it only means that they will not only be headhunting our health workers.

“So, that doesn’t mean people can’t apply to work in the UK.

“I know that last year, the MDCN Registrar went to the GMC and the report we got that time was that they discussed how to mitigate the effect of brain drain in Nigeria.

“This is purely speculative but we believe this was part of what was discussed. We can’t confirm that but it is possible”, Orji shared.

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