UK redlist: Only better conditions of service can halt exodus of health workers - Ghana Registered Nurses

The red listing of Ghana by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Kingdom (UK) will not halt the ongoing brain drain of health workers, says David Tenkorang, the General Secretary of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA). 

Mr Tenkorang believes that the UK and other developed countries will continue to recruit health workers from Ghana and other red-listed countries despite the directive. 

Ghana was included on a list of 54 countries that should not be targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers in the UK due to a UHC Service Coverage Index lower than 50 and a density of doctors, nurses, and midwives below the global median. 

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Mr Tenkorang suggested that the government should provide better conditions of service in Ghana to make healthcare work attractive to nurses and prevent them from fleeing. 

“The directive is much ado about nothing. The WHO came out with global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. UK and most of these countries have virtually ignored that thing. It doesn’t stop individuals from applying directly to health centres or hospitals in UK to go and work. And currently that is what is ongoing. So it doesn’t solve any problem,” Mr Tenkorang said in an interview with Joy FM.

“What will solve the problem is very simple and I’ve made it clear to the government that they need to look at ways and means that they can be intentional about retaining the people, providing better condition of service in Ghana,” he suggested.

The Ministry of Health has appealed the directive, and discussions on a bilateral agreement with the UK government that will regulate the movement of Ghanaian health workers to the UK are ongoing.

“The ministry also appealed to WHO to have a review because one, we are in talks with UK government so we have a bilateral agreement. This in a way is going to regulate the migration of our nurses in this country. These are nurses that you can’t stop them from going on their own, but when we put the proper measures, like the bilateral agreement that the nurses is confident that ‘I’m going on to get a knowledge impact, and I come back to serve my country’ and they have the opportunity to go and they have the opportunity to come back and work in Ghana it’s going to solve the issue of nurses leaving without the knowledge of the Ministry or without the knowledge of the health sector,” he said.

About 3,000 nurses and midwives have left the country last year to seek greener pastures abroad.

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