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'Does the UK really need the services of overseas nurses?'

Yakubu Salifu
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Earlier this year I read a story in Nursing Times about efforts by the Scottish Government to recruit nurses from overseas. It made me ask myself: where overseas? 

I am a third-year PhD candidate and a registered nurse specialist from Ghana and I my PhD is on the experiences of patients with prostate cancer. I had about seven years of clinical experience and two years of teaching experience before starting my PhD in 2015. I am now the director of a non-governmental organisation, ProCaSH, that seeks to improve support men with prostate cancer in Ghana.

Nursing is a skill, art, and science, so I have always preferred to keep those elements of my profession alive. I decided to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council so that I could practice alongside my PhD studies.

”I was shocked by the obstacles to registering to practise’

I want to maintain and improve my clinical skills, learn new things in the UK context and earn money to support my studies and my family while I am in the UK. But I was shocked by the obstacles to registering to practise.

The whole process is lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive.

When I decided to start the online application, I realised that I needed to pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Despite the fact that other people like myself have had our education in English and are perhaps on a course in the UK that is taught and assessed in English, this was not sufficient evidence of our English proficiency for the NMC.

I have spent over 21 months since deciding to nurse in the UK trying to register. I have spent about £1,125 covering fees for IELTS exams, a computer-based test, my NMC application, a police report from Ghana, NMC verification, transcripts from my previous training school, references from two employers, a DBS check here in the UK and a doctor’s report among others. I will be required to pay £990 for an objective structured clinical examination and another £600 to train for this exam.

When I attended the RCN Congress in Belfast in May, similar issues bordering on discrimination against Black, Asian and minor ethnic (BAME) people was raised concerning the NHS and nursing in general. For example, dependents of foreign-trained nurses especially from outside the European Union do not enjoy free health care services from NHS.

“The staffing shortage in the NHS might be difficult to address in the wake of Brexit”

So the staffing shortage in the NHS might be difficult to address in the wake of Brexit. Someone may say the recent announcement of the relaxation of the UK visa rules will help more nurses to fill vacancies but until the lengthy and time-consuming process of registration and the charges involved are addressed, we should prepare for continued staff shortages.

I strongly believe I am not the only person going through this pressure when all I want to do is register to give care and do the work that I have dedicated most of my life to.

Yakubu Salifu is a doctoral candidate (nursing studies), Nottingham Centre for the Advancement of Research into Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care (NCARE), School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham

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