The Best Ghanaian Nurses Are Relocating To The UK

The enrollment of nurses by high income countries from more unfortunate countries is now getting out of hands, as indicated by the head of one of the world’s biggest nursing groups.

The BBC has discovered evidence that Ghana’s health system is struggling as a result of the “brain drain,” which led to the comments.

In search of higher-paying jobs elsewhere, many specialist nurses have left the West African nation. In 2022, in excess of 1,200 Ghanaian medical attendants joined the UK’s nursing register.

This comes at a time when the National Health Service (NHS) is increasingly relying on workers from countries outside of the European Union to fill vacancies.

Social media makes it easy for nurses to see the open jobs in NHS trusts, despite the fact that the United Kingdom states that active recruitment is prohibited in Ghana. After that, they can directly apply for those jobs. The dire economic situation in Ghana is a major motivator.

The magnitude of the number of nurses leaving countries like Ghana worries Howard Catton of the International Council of Nurses (ICN).

He stated to the BBC, “My sense is that the situation is currently out of control.”

“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.”

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Gifty Aryee, the head of nursing at Greater Accra Regional Hospital, told the BBC that in the last six months, her Intensive Care Unit alone had lost 20 nurses to the United Kingdom and the United States, which had serious repercussions.

“Care is affected as we are not able to take any more patients. There are delays, and it costs more in mortality – patients die,” she said.

She went on to say that because there weren’t enough nurses, seriously ill patients often had to wait longer in the emergency room.

The BBC discovered a similar situation at Cape Coast Municipal Hospital:

“All our experienced nurses gone.” Caroline Agbodza, the hospital’s deputy head of nursing services, said. As at now, 22 nurses had left for the UK in the past year.

“All our critical care nurses, our experienced nurses, have gone. So we end up having nothing – no experienced staff to work with. Even if the government recruits, we have to go through the pain of training nurses again.”

Staff turnover also has an impact on smaller clinics because even the departure of one nurse can have a significant ripple effect.

One nurse has left the outpatient unit and the small emergency department at Cape Coast’s Ewim Health Clinic. Both nurses had jobs in the UK and had previous experience.

The effects, according to Dr. Justice Arthur, the hospital’s chief physician, were enormous.

“Let’s take services like immunisation of children. If we lose public health nurses, then the babies that have to be immunised will not get their immunisation, and we are going to have babies die,” he told the BBC.

He stated that adult patients would also pass away if there were insufficient nurses to care for them after surgery.

The BBC team spoke to most of the nurses who wanted to leave Ghana because they could make more money elsewhere.

“Because of our substandard working conditions, nurses will continue to leave the profession. We’ve already spent two weeks’ worth of our meager salary. It’s from hand to mouth”, one nurse said.

Some Ghanaian nurses told the BBC that, in the UK they could get in excess of multiple times what they are getting in Ghana.

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According to Ghana’s Nurses and Midwives Association member Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the country’s healthcare system required additional assistance.

“If you look at the numbers, then it is not ethical for the UK to recruit from Ghana because the number of professional nurses compared to trainee or auxiliary nurses is a problem for us,” she said.

She added, however, that the Ghanaian government needed to do more to convince nurses to stay because migration was a right and it was impossible to prevent nurses from leaving. Meanwhile, the health service in the capital, Accra, declined to comment.

According to medical professionals, Ghana is on the World Health Organization’s list of 55 vulnerable countries with low numbers of nurses per head of population, which means that critical care for patients is being affected. The list – named by some as the “red list” – is intended to beat deliberate enrollment in these nations down.

The UK government recently gave £15m ($18.6m) to Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to assist with supporting their medical care labor forces.

However, it is known that the nation is contemplating a formal agreement with Ghana in which it may be able to recruit more proactively in exchange for paying the Ghanaian government per nurse. With Nepal, it already has a similar agreement.

But the ICN’s Mr Catton addressed whether it was sufficient.

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.”

Credit: BBC

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