Nigeria: While Nigerian Hospitals Lament Insufficient Personnel, 13,000 Leave for UK in One Year

Nigeria is second only to Indians in the number of visas granted for the ‘Skilled Worker – Health & Care’ with 14 per cent (13,609).

While Nigerian hospitals continue to suffer from insufficient and other health personnel, over 13,000 healthcare workers left the country for the UK in the past year.

A new report by the UK government showed that the 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers granted working visas within the period are second only to the 42,966 from India.

According to the UK immigration report released Thursday, Nigeria is second only to Indians in the number of visas granted for the ‘Skilled Worker – Health & Care’ with 14 per cent (13,609) of the total.

India has the highest in this category with 45 per cent (42,966) of the total while The Philippines is third with 11 per cent (11,021).

However, it is not only healthcare workers that are leaving Nigeria to work in the UK.

Nigerians are also the second highest recipients of the ‘worker visa’, second only to Indians.

In the year ending June 2022, Nigerians made up 15,772 of the ‘worker’ visas granted; a 303 per cent increase when compared to the 3,918 worker visas granted in 2019.

India, which ranked first, received 102,981 work visa grants. The Philippines ranked third with 12,826; Zimbabwe fourth with 8,378 and the United States fifth with 7,748.

According to the report by the UK Home Office, “in the year ending June 2022, ‘Worker’ visa grants increased by 96 per cent (+108,794) to 222,349 compared with 2019, and now represent 67 per cent of all work visas.”

It added that there were 87,266 grants of ‘Skilled Worker’ visas and an additional 96,249 grants of ‘Skilled Worker – Health & Care’ visas.

The top three nationals granted ‘Skilled Worker’ visas are Indians, accounting for 39 per cent (34,186), followed by United States nationals with 6 per cent (5,637) and South Africans with 4 per cent (3,578).

“Grants for ‘Skilled Worker’ visas have grown every quarter since they were first introduced in December 2020, and together represent over half (55%) of all work visas granted in the latest year,” the report said.

There has been public outcry on the mass exodus of health workers from Nigeria including from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

In January, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) lamented the exit of more than 100 of its members who left the country in 2021.

The president of the association, Victor Makanjuola, while speaking at a briefing in Abuja said the medical officials left the services of 17 tertiary health institutions in the country.

Mr Makanjuola said the mass exodus of medical and dental consultants to more developed countries has brought significant disruptions to Nigeria’s health care ecosystem.

A 2017 survey by the Nigerian Polling organisation (NOIPolls) in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, revealed that about 88 per cent of medical doctors in Nigeria were seeking work opportunities abroad at the time.

As of 2020, Nigeria had a doctor-patient ratio of 1:2,753, in sharp contrast to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s minimum recommended ratio of 1:400-600.

However, in 2019, Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour, said Nigeria had ‘surplus doctors’ and he was, thus, not worried about Nigerian doctors leaving the country to go practice in other climes.

Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.