Uhuru inks UK jobs deal for medics


President Kenyatta at Mansion House, the Official Residence of the Lord Mayor of London, where he attended the Kenya-UK Investment Forum. PSCU PHOTO

Jobless Kenyan nurses and other health workers will get a chance to work in the UK after the two countries signed a pact Thursday, which will benefit unemployed surplus medics.

The deal will see unemployed medical workers from Kenya serve in the UK’s National Health Service before returning to work in Kenya.

It comes as good news for the more than 30,000 jobless Kenyan nurses and healthcare workers grappling with unemployment.

Britain says 894 Kenyan nurses are working in its public healthcare system — the National Health Service.

The agreement, which President Uhuru Kenyatta signed yesterday in London is part of a new scheme Kenya had requested.

The President is on a three-day official visit to the UK where several bilateral deals have been signed.

“Our healthcare agreement will make the most of UK and Kenyan health expertise, which will be beneficial to both countries, with the exchange of knowledge and training which will provide first-class healthcare,” said British Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid during the unveiling of the deal.

The pact comes a few weeks after the UK allowed highly skilled Kenyans without degree-level qualifications to apply for work permits in Britain under post-Brexit immigration rules, enabling them to compete with jobseekers from the European Union (EU and other regions. Britain’s new points-based immigration system, set to be implemented from January 2021, has lowered the requirement for job applicants to a minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent from degree-level under the 27-member EU bloc system.

There is no planned formal route for lower-skilled workers to enter Britain, although seasonal and sector-specific schemes may be created.

Kenyan healthcare workers have often sought opportunities abroad to escape poor working conditions and low pay locally amid a clamour by unions for better pay and working conditions.

Britain also said it would donate 817,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses for Kenya — half of which will comprise a bilateral donation and half a UK donation through the Covax facility.