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Unemployed nurses in Kenya given ‘special route’ to work in UK

Hospital corridor


Unemployed nurses and healthcare workers from Kenya will be offered work in the NHS, the Government has announced.

The agreement between health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, and Kenya’s cabinet secretary for labour cooperation Simon Chelugui, will see jobless healthcare workers from the country given a ‘special route’ to work in the UK.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the deal would help it delivered its manifesto commitment for 50,000 more nurses by 2024 and support the training of Kenya’s staff.

The exact numbers who will go to the UK – and the process for visas – will be confirmed in the next three months, the DHSC said. Nursing in Practice has also asked the DHSC for further details on how long healthcare staff will work in the UK under the scheme and in which healthcare areas.

Mr Javid said: ‘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.’

Jane Marriott, the British high commissioner to Kenya, said the deal will allow the countries ‘to share skills and expertise even further, and is a fantastic opportunity for Kenyans to work in the UK’.

The deal comes as a partnership, called the Kenya-UK Health Alliance, was also signed to increase cooperation between UK and Kenyan institutions. This will include exchanges involving cancer research and treatment, Covid-19 vaccines and genomic sequencing.

In the NHS in England, there are 894 Kenyans working across all roles. This makes Kenyans the 30th largest nationality group in the NHS.

Earlier this year, the Government allowed the NHS to hire international health and social care staff from over a hundred countries where it had previously banned active recruitment. Recruitment campaigns can now be run in countries including Namibia, Laos and Iran.

The agreement comes amid concerns about workforce shortages, with the latest NHS vacancy figures from March 2021 showing 34,678 registered nursing vacancies.