Blow to jobless Kenyan nurses as UK halts recruitment


A nurse attends to a patient at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NMG

The British government has stopped the recruitment of jobless nurses from Kenya in a surprise move.

The UK Department of Health announced Thursday, November 11, that it was suspending the hiring process, citing an existing labour shortage of the health workers in the country.

Kenya and Britain on July 29 signed a deal that was expected to benefit unemployed surplus medics, who would serve in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) before returning to Nairobi.

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

But UK now says it has taken the decision after adding Kenya on its list of countries facing a shortage of health workers.

“While Kenya is not on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List, it remains a country with significant health workforce challenges,” the UK says.

“Adding Kenya to the amber list in the Code will protect Kenya from unmanaged international recruitment which could exacerbate existing health and social care workforce shortages. It remains a country with significant health workforce challenges.”

The announcement, which deals a blow to nurses who were in the process of applying for posts, comes even as the Health ministry revealed late last month that only 10 of 300 nurses passed English language tests required for the NHS jobs. 

While it is not clear how many have so far been recruited under the deal, the UK said those who had already secured employment in Britain would not be affected.

Britain said earlier that 894 Kenyan nurses are working in its public healthcare system.

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