UK and Jamaica nurse exchange aims to provide mutual learning

Nurses in Jamaica and the UK will have the chance to swap places in a nurse exchange partnership

Nurses in Jamaica and the UK will have the chance to swap places in a nurse exchange partnership

Picture: iStock

Health minister Stephen Barclay said Jamaican nurses will come to work in the UK for three years, with their UK counterparts getting the chance to work in Jamaica under a reciprocal arrangement.

Mr Barclay said: ‘The NHS is blazing a trail in healthcare across the world and it is testament to the skills and expertise of our dedicated nurses that other countries are vying for their knowledge to help improve their own services,’ he said.

Donna Kinnair
Professor Dame Donna Kinnair.
Picture: John Houlihan 

RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Dame Donna Kinnair said the college supported the government’s ‘earn, learn and return’ ideal, which aims to develop the skills of overseas nurses rather than plucking skilled staff from another nation’s health system.

Sustainable and ethical

‘Nursing is a global profession, and we support sharing skills and learning with colleagues across the world,’ Professor Kinnair said.

‘This must be done in way that is sustainable and ethical, and not taking vital health workers away from poorer countries.’

However, she warned that overseas nurses were not the answer to the NHS’s current staffing woes.

‘Ministers cannot just look to compensate for past and current policy mistakes through time-limited immigration schemes,’ she said.

‘The government needs to make urgent investment decisions to grow and retain our domestic workforce, while fostering opportunities for nursing staff across the world to share skills and expertise.’

High training standards in Jamaica

The RCN estimates there is a shortage of approximately 40,000 nurses in England.

Professor Kinnair also said the government should highlight the professionalism of Jamaican nurses, adding that nurses in the UK would benefit from working with them.  

‘The government must be careful not to patronise nurses who trained in Jamaica, where training standards are very high,’ she said.

‘UK nurses will learn much from this well-trained workforce, most of whom will have done a minimum four years’ training in general nursing and midwifery, as well theory in specialist areas.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the start date and total numbers of staff for the Jamaican nurse programme are yet to be confirmed.

The programme is similar to another ‘earn, learn and return’ scheme in which Indian nurses came to work in Harrogate, Yorkshire from late last year.

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