By Editor: June 10th, 2023.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has revealed that many low-income countries such as Ghana are suffering from a shortage of hospital and clinic nurses due to so many qualified nurses leaving those countries to work in six or seven of the most wealthy countries.
“Ghanaian nurses told the BBC that in the UK they could earn more than seven times what they are receiving in Ghana”, says the BBC report.
The comments come as the BBC finds evidence of how Ghana’s health system is struggling due to the “brain-drain”.
Many specialist nurses have left the West African country for better paid jobs overseas.
In 2022 more than 1,200 Ghanaian nurses joined the UK’s nursing register.
This comes as the National Health Service (NHS) increasingly relies on staff from non-EU countries to fill vacancies.
Although the UK says active recruitment in Ghana is not allowed, social media means nurses can easily see the vacancies available in NHS trusts. They can then apply for those jobs directly. Ghana’s dire economic situation acts as a big push factor.
“My sense is that the situation currently is out of control,” he told the BBC.
“We have intense recruitment taking place mainly driven by six or seven high-income countries but with recruitment from countries which are some of the weakest and most vulnerable which can ill-afford to lose their nurses.”
The head of nursing at Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Gifty Aryee, told the BBC her Intensive Care Unit alone had lost 20 nurses to the UK and US in the last six months – with grave implications.
Most of the nurses that the BBC team spoke to wanted to leave Ghana due to the fact they could earn more elsewhere.
At Kwaso healthcare centre near the city of Kumasi, Mercy Asare Afriyie explained that she was hoping to find a job in the UK soon.
“The exodus of nurses is not going to stop because of our poor conditions of service. Our salary is nothing to write home about and in two weeks you spend it. It’s from hand to mouth.”
Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo from Ghana’s Nurses and Midwives Association said her country’s healthcare system needed more help.
“If you look at the numbers, then it is not ethical for the UK to recruit from Ghana because the numbers of professional nurses compared to trainee or auxiliary nurses is a problem for us,” she said.
But she added that it was not possible to stop nurses from leaving as migration was a right and that the Ghanaian government needed to do more to persuade them to stay. The health ministry in the capital, Accra, declined to comment.
Ghana is on the World Health Organization’s list of 55 vulnerable countries, which have low numbers of nurses per head of population. The list – dubbed by some as the “red list” – is designed to discourage systematic recruitment in these countries.
The UK government recently gave £15m ($18.6m) to Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to help boost their healthcare workforces.
But the country is known to be looking at brokering a formal deal with Ghana whereby it might be able to recruit more proactively in return for giving the government there a sum of money per nurse.
It already has a similar agreement with Nepal.
But the ICN’s Mr Catton questioned whether it was enough.
He told the BBC that he believed such deals were “trying to create a veneer of ethical respectability rather than a proper reflection of the true costs to the countries which are losing their nurses”.
The WHO’s Director of Health Workforce, Jim Campbell, explained to the BBC that Brexit had been a factor in the UK turning to African countries for nurses to fill NHS vacancies.
“The labour market is extremely competitive around the world and, having closed off the potential labour market from European freedom of movement, what we’re seeing is the consequences of that in terms of attracting people from the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions.”
Source: BBC News Africa.