Nepali Nurses To Care For English Patients

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One of the regular phenomena of human nature is the quest to learn more and a need to migrate from one place to another in search of better opportunities. The opportunities could be to enhance their skills or simply to earn to meet their daily necessities. Most of the skilled and unskilled workers migrate from hills and the Terai of Nepal to the Kathmandu Valley in search of work. Then they dream to go to other countries in search of work with better pay checks. The exodus of unskilled labourers going to India across the open border to work in the farms, households and industries has been a daily phenomenon for centuries and is increasing all the time. 

As per the agreement between Nepal and India, no work permit is required for workers from either country to work in each other’s country. While Nepali workers go mainly as unskilled labourers, Indian workers who come to Nepal are skilled workers and take away better salaries. Educated young Nepalis are always on the lookout for migrating to foreign countries for work. Recently the United Kingdom (UK) is trying to attract health care professionals to go to work in UK. After the COVID-19 impact and the Brexit deal, there seems to be a need for health care professionals, and the National Health Service (NHS) there is drawing in skilled workers, at all level, in the sector.

Agreement 

On 22nd August 2022, Eknarayan Aryal, secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLESS) and British Ambassador to Nepal, Nicola Pollitt, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to recruit Nepali Health care professionals in UK’s health sector.  The focus at present is to recruit nurses from Nepal who meet the required qualifications and who are interested to work in UK. The MOU states that the Government to Government (G2G) bilateral agreement on fair and ethical recruitment of Nepali healthcare professionals to work in UK’s healthcare sector will give employment opportunities to Nepali professionals. It also emphasises the fact that it will help to strengthen the skills of the healthcare workers in Nepal as there is a provision that these healthcare professionals who go to UK under this agreement will have to return back to Nepal after 5 years. 

The objectives are to give employment to Nepali professionals, meet the demand of skilled workers in the health sector in UK, and also to enhance the skills of the Nepali workers so they can return back to their country and contribute to the health sector. Once selected and after joining the NHS service in UK, the Nepali nurses shall receive equal rights, privileges, protections, and dignity as health professionals from UK.

During an interaction with aspiring nurses and government representatives of both the countries, which was organised by the Association of British Alumni Nepal (ABAN) recently, Dr Thaneshwor Bhusal, Under Secretary at the MoLESS mentioned that the entire process for application and approval for Nepali nurses will be through the online process via the platforms approved by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) and MoLESS. This site is yet to be uploaded as the implementation process is still being formulated between the two countries. He mentioned that as there was a surplus of experienced nurses and the training of many nurses are ongoing, the Nepal government had taken this initiative. 

However, it must be noted in the past there were many protests held by the private sector against the Nepal Government for imposing many restrictions on the nursing institutes. If quality production of nurses within the country is restricted, the departure of experienced nurses might create a vacuum in the country. The argument that MoLESS is giving is that nurses going to UK under this MOU will be experienced nurses who will be replaced by new nurses educated in Nepal. Also, those going to UK under this MOU would enhance their skills and return to Nepal. 

British Ambassador Pollitt mentioned that this would be a pilot project and the next stage of recruitment would be decided based on the outcome. She stressed on the point that the selected healthcare professionals will not incur any fees for the recruitment. For successful candidates, all recruitment costs will be reimbursed, including the examination costs of English language, flights, visa fees, etc. Therefore, a strong message was given during the interaction not to go via any agency or agents who might lure the aspiring nurses to pay fees for this process. All applications had to be done mandatorily via the onlineplatforms prescribed by the DoFE. 

Eligibility criteria 

The eligibility criteria include the need to be a Nepali citizen aged between 20 and 45 with valid Nepali passport, have completed either staff nurse, or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.Sc) or Bachelor of Nursing B.N), or Master’s degree in nursing from a recognised institution by the government of Nepal. Candidates need to have active professional license from Nepal Nursing Council and at least 2 years of work experience in a registered hospital in Nepal. Then there are requirements of meeting the English Language efficiency and having applied for Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC/UK), having passed job interview, completed required medical check-ups. After working in UK, they also need to give exams and pass in a periodic manner. 

Migration of aspiring individuals is their individual right and cannot be stopped. However, there is a need to make sure their labour is not exploited and a vacuum of their professional skills is not felt in the country from where they depart. It is, therefore, important that the nurses need to go via the proper channel and Nepal government should ensure quality production of nurses in Nepal. Living and earning in a country like UK will definitely benefit the Nepali nurses who go there and the skills and remittance they bring back will benefit Nepal. 


(Namrata Sharma is a journalist and women rights advocate namrata1964@yahoo.comTwitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP )


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