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Overseas nurse recruitment: how new rules will help employers take an ethical approach

The WHO’s revised ‘red list’ of the countries not be targeted simplifies process

The WHOs pared down red list of countries not be targeted broadens scope of UK healthcare employers needing to look overseas to boost their nurse numbers

The government has updated its code of practice on the international recruitment of nurses.

This revised code sets out responsibilities on recruiters, employers and government to maintain ethical international recruitment, thus ensuring countries with the weakest health systems are protected.

Pared down list of nations not to be targeted for overseas nurse recruitment

The main change in this newly revised code of practice is the use of a red list of countries that should not be targeted for international recruitment.

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The WHO’s pared down ‘red list’ of countries not be targeted broadens scope of UK healthcare employers needing to look overseas to boost their nurse numbers

Nurses practising in the UK who were recruited in India Picture: John Harrison

The government has updated its code of practice on the international recruitment of nurses.

This revised code sets out responsibilities on recruiters, employers and government to maintain ‘ethical’ international recruitment, thus ensuring countries with the weakest health systems are protected.

Pared down list of nations not to be targeted for overseas nurse recruitment

The main change in this newly revised code of practice is the use of a ‘red list’ of countries that should not be targeted for international recruitment.

This list has been developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and currently contains 47 countries – mainly in Africa and Asia-Pacific. The WHO will be periodically analysing and updating the countries on the list.

This new list replaces a much longer list of 152 countries that had been appended to the previous version of the code.

England’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) makes the point that alignment with this new WHO global list removes confusion that might arise from the UK holding a separate list of countries.

It also gives a clear green-light to recruit from a much broader range of countries, including India, as well as a range of other countries that were previously ‘banned’.

This is about ethics with a very strong pragmatic core.

Government has its nurse-numbers target to meet

The DHSC has said that the code ‘will help to meet UK’s target of delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024’.

There are already more than 100,000 international nurses on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register, and recent reports show this number will be growing rapidly.

More than 8,000 international nurses were recruited to NHS England between April 2020 and February 2021, despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, and 1,000 per month is the ongoing target.

The revised code will facilitate, rather than limit, that inflow.


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