GRNMA downplays UK red listed health workers

Story: Yaw Takyi

The General Secretary of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, David Tenkorang, says the red listing of Ghana in relation to the recruitment of health workers by the WHO and the UK will not prevent the ongoing brain drain.

According to him, the UK as well as other developed countries have gone on to recruit health workers from Ghana as well as other red listed countries despite the red listing and the status quo is unlikely to change anytime soon.

 “The directive is much ado about nothing. The WHO came out with global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. UK and most of these countries have virtually ignored that thing. It doesn’t stop individuals from applying directly to health centres or hospitals in UK to go and work. And currently that is what is ongoing. So it doesn’t solve any problem,” he said.

His comment follows Ghana being included on the list of 54 countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers in the United Kingdom.

The announcement was made by the UK government in its revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England.

The code states that some developing countries, such as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria should not be targeted when actively recruiting health or care professionals.

In a release on the NHS website, the UK government explained that the listed countries have a UHC Service Coverage Index that is lower than 50 and a density of doctors, nurses and midwives that is below the global median (48.6 per 10,000 population).

The UK government added that the list is based upon the World Health Organisation (WHO) Workforce Support and Safeguard List, 2023 and will be updated alongside progress reports on WHO Global Code implementation and reported to the World Health Assembly every three years.

Reacting to the statement, David Tenkorang noted that while the directive will not solve the problem, the onus is on government to make health care work in the country attractive to nurses in order to prevent them from fleeing.

“What will solve the problem is very simple and I’ve made it clear to the government that they need to look at ways and means that they can be intentional about retaining the people, providing better condition of service in Ghana,” he suggested.

Meanwhile the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Isaac Offei Baah, says the Health Ministry has appealed the directive.

He says discussions on a bilateral agreement with the UK government that will regulate the movement of Ghanaian health workers to the UK is ongoing.

“The ministry also appealed to WHO to have a review because one, we are in talks with UK government so we have a bilateral agreement. This in a way is going to regulate the migration of our nurses in this country. These are nurses that you can’t stop them from going on their own, but when we put the proper measures, like the bilateral agreement that the nurses is confident that ‘I’m going on to get a knowledge impact, and I come back to serve my country’ and they have the opportunity to go and they have the opportunity to come back and work in Ghana it’s going to solve the issue of nurses leaving without the knowledge of the Ministry or without the knowledge of the health sector.”

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