UK Stops ‘Active Recruitment’ Of Health Workers From Nigeria, 53 Others

The number of emigrating Nigerian health workers to the UK and other places skyrocketed especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The United Kingdom has stopped “active recruitment” of skilled and experienced health and social care personnel from Nigeria and 53 other countries globally, mostly African nations.

In its updated ‘Code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England’, the UK placed Nigeria and the other countries on its red list which was based on the World Health Organisation Workforce Support and Safeguard List, 2023.

The other countries on the red list include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, and Lesotho.

Others are Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mozambique, Niger, Pakistan , Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Tanzania, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“There must be no active international recruitment from countries on the red list, unless there is an explicit government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities that are undertaken strictly in compliance with the terms of that agreement,” the UK said in its updated policy on social and health workers released in March 2023.

The British Government, however, said the list doesn’t prevent individual health and social care personnel from independently applying to health and social care employers for employment in the UK, “of their own accord and without being targeted by a third party, such as a recruitment agency or employer (known as a direct application)”.

The UK also said the restrictions do not apply to health workers from countries on the red list but who do not reside there or in another red list country.

The stoppage of active recruitment of Nigerian health and social workers come amid outrage against the move by Nigeria’s lower chamber to mandate medical graduates to render services within Nigeria for five years before being granted full license.

The House of Representatives recently passed for second reading, the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to compel Nigerian-trained doctors, nurses and other health workers from emigrating the country to work in Europe and other parts of the world till they have served the country for five years.

For decades, Nigerian doctors and nurses have formed a considerable percentage in the number of migrating young and skilled personnel in a phenomenon known as brain drain or colloquially called ‘japa’ which means to flee.

The number of emigrating Nigerian health workers to the UK and other places rose especially after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Doctors and nurses in Nigeria have perpetually embarked on industrial actions to protest poor welfare, unpaid salaries and other unfavorable work conditions but in spite government numerous promises, both at the federal and state levels, these issues have not been satisfactorily addressed, leading to the mass exodus of skilled health practitioners who are mostly embraced in places like the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, amongst others.