Consequently, The Gambia, a country that enjoyed decades of recognition, acknowledgement and sometimes uninterrupted approval to its advantage regarding UK recruitment, is no longer expected to enjoy those opportunities.
But, the British government argues that the recent revised Code of Practice for international enrollment of health workers is mainly due to a “World Health Organisation Workforce Support and Safeguard List, 2023”.
A government official familiar with the draft responding to The Point confirmed that it was “indeed as a result of a WHO instruction…and our press release sufficiently outlined it”.
The official who refused to specifically dwelled on the Gambian issue added: “The countries listed have a UHC Service Coverage Index that is lower than 50 and a density of doctors… nurses and midwives below the global median (48.6 per 10,000 population)…We merely adhere to the rules”.
Nonetheless, a Gambian health worker based in London with over 20 years’ experience noted: “The rule may affect us in the future because it is always nice to work alongside friends… it was also an opportunity for job seekers and graduates…People will be disappointed”.
Majority of the 54 countries placed on the list are mainly from the African continent including nearly all countries from the West Africa sub-region.
This correspondent also gathered that the rules “doesn’t inhibit private individual health workers” independently applying for employment in the UK.
However, it prohibits the involvement by a “third party” such as recruitment agencies.
According to some health professionals, Gambian applicants have a good chance due to their “professionalism, good record and adherence to NHS Code of Conduct”.
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and as result of the impact of post-Brexit on the NHS, hundreds of health workers were accepted from abroad to make up for those losses.
Notwithstanding the announcement, some of the critics called the whole project a “brain drained” while others described it as “green pastures for those who are qualified but not properly paid by their own governments”.
Separately, a recent research briefing entitled: “NHS work force in England” seen by this correspondent, also detailed an overview of workforce demographics and discusses progress against current targets including turnover and vacancy rates, temporary staffing as well as how safe staffing level etc.