The United Kingdom has adjusted its ‘Code of Practice’ for the recruitment of health and social care personnel internationally.
The development has placed Nigeria on the list of countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.
Last week, a bill seeking an amendment to the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act—to local practice compulsory for graduates in medical and dental fields to render services within the country for five years before being granted a full license had passed second reading.
Ganiyu Johnson (APC/Lagos), the sponsor of the bill during the debate, said the move was to check how medical professionals in their mass number leave the country annually.
“From all Nigeria has invested and spent on training these doctors, today, we have less than 10,000 doctors remaining in Nigeria”, Mr Johnson said.
Nigeria now falls among the countries listed under the red list—drawn from the World Health Organisation (WHO) health workforce support and safeguards list.
In March, the WHO published the safeguards list comprising 55 countries — including Nigeria — struggling with a shortage of health workers.
The UK government said Nigeria and other countries on the red list should be prioritised for health personnel development and health system-related support as well as provided with safeguards that discourage active international recruitment of their workers.
“Countries on the list should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, or contracting bodies unless there is a government-to-government agreement in place to allow managed recruitment undertaken strictly in compliance with the terms of that agreement,” the code of practice reads.
The UK, however, said the list does not prevent individual health and social care personnel in the red list countries from “independently” applying for employment in the country — “without being targeted by a recruitment agency or employer”.
The code of practice also states that “ethical recruitment is determined by the country from which the individual is resident in, rather than the nationality of the individual or their original country of training”. This means that if a health worker is a national of a red list country but does not reside there or in another red list country, the restrictions do not apply.
The UK also said if a government-to-government agreement is put in place between a partner country, which restricts recruiting organisations to the terms of the agreement, the country can be added to the amber list.
Countries that are not on either the red or amber lists are to be considered ‘green’ countries and active recruitment is permitted where there is a government-to-government agreement with the UK in place.