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UK bashed for plan to ‘steal’ doctors, nurses from developing countries

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech launching the government's long-term plan for the National Health Service (NHS) at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool on January 7, 2019. (AFP photo)

A plan by British government to strengthen its health service in the upcoming five years has been heavily criticized as it seeks to hire medical staff from developing countries on a massive scale.

Nursing leaders warned Monday, hours after Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her five-year budget plan for the National Health Service (NHS), that the new NHS recruitment scheme could harm health services in developing countries as it seeks to hire thousands of doctors and nurses from those countries to fill around 110,000 existing vacancies in the organization.  

Dame Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing, told The Independent that May’s government was clearly evading responsibility to grow domestic doctors and nurses.

“We need immediate investment in nurse education to grow the domestic workforce. It is neither sustainable nor ethical long term to rely on other countries to provide our nurses,” said  Kinnair, adding, “Overseas recruitment might be a short-term solution, but it will not be enough to solve the burgeoning workforce crisis that’s jeopardizing safe patient care in England.”

May on Monday released details of a plan to spend more than 20 billion pounds a year of extra budget in the NHS until 2023, expressing hope that the money could help an organization which has seen the quality of its services reduced over the past eight years by recurrent government cuts.

A main focus of the plan would be a “significant uplift” in international recruitment so that the NHS could shore up its workforce and reduce waiting times for patients to receive treatment.

“This will mean a step change in the recruitment of international nurses to work in the NHS and we expect that over the next five years this will increase nurse supplies by several thousand each year,” said the plan.

The ambitious plan comes as thousands of doctors from European Union countries have already left the United Kingdom or plan to leave the country out of fears that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in March could seriously hurt their career.

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