Will Kenyan nurses in the UK on a government to government pact help in easing out on shortage of staff?
The Rishi Sunak led Conservative government says it will not bow down to nurses demands for an improved pay offer and that it is not “not looking to re-open” negotiations with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Downing Street has said it will not make an improved pay offer to nurses after its previous deal was turned down.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is set to return to the picket line from April 30, with strike action potentially to go on until Christmas.
The government offered a 5% pay rise this year and one-off a cash payment for last year, but members of the RCN voted to reject it.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said on Monday in a statement that the government has had made the “final offer”.
Reads the statement from 10 Downing Street: “The Royal College of Nursing was clear that talks will not be reopened if members reject the pay offer and we agree,” they said.
“We do think there is a fair offer on the table. We’re not looking to re-open it.
“This is a good and fair deal that is reasonable for them and for the taxpayer,” further reads the statement.
Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the RCN, had recommended to her members that they back the deal.
But it was rejected by a vote of 54% to 46%.
Following the vote, Cullen called on the government to make an improved offer.
Speaking in London on Monday morning on pubic broadcasters, Sunak said renewed strike action in the NHS would make meeting his promise to cut waiting times “more challenging”.
The Prime Minister made the pledge as one of his five priorities at the start of the year, but the latest figures showed a record 7.22 million people were waiting to start routine hospital treatment at the end of February.
UK outsourcing nurses in Kenya
In 2021, the UK government and the former Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyan government signed a pact for the eastern African country to be sending its unemployed nurses to Britain.
Perharps, the question is, will the foreign nurses coming to work in the UK will help ease the pressure that the UK healthcare industry is facing?
Gabrielle Mitchell, 71, of Chingford road in Bilborough, Nottingham, a retired nurse said: “Bringing in foreign nurses is a very good idea as this means nurses will not have to work too much because of shortage of staff.
Dr. Jeffrey Mwangi, a medical General Practitioner (GP) who moved to the UK from Nairobi Kenya, 10 years ago said: “Kenya should take advantage of this agreement but must train more nurses so that in the end the country would not go into shortage of nurses.”
“While this is a great opportunity, let us not create a brain drain rather it should be a brain gain as our health care professionals will acquire the best medical knowledge while working here and when they return back home, they contribute to the country’s healthcare development.
Only last month, the UK and the new Kenyan government under president Dr. William Ruto renewed the two government’s commitment to continue sending Kenyan nurses to the UK.
The Kenyan Ministry of Labour through the National Employment Authority (NEA) reopened applications for nurses seeking to work in the UK.
This follows the signing of a bilateral agreement for collaboration in the healthcare workforce between Kenya and the UK, which allows Kenyan healthcare professionals to be recruited to work in the UK National Health Service (NHS).
For one to qualify, one must be a Kenyan citizen, have a diploma or bachelor’s degree in Nursing from a recognized institution, and be registered and licensed by the Nursing Council of Kenya to qualify for the program.
They are also required to have a valid Police Clearance Certificate (Certificate of Good Conduct) and not be in paid employment either in the public or private sector in Kenya.
Nurses are the first cadre of healthcare workers targeted for recruitment under the agreement signed during President Kenyatta’s visit to the UK last month.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Health Workforce Collaboration, which provides a framework for capacity building and exchange of healthcare workers between Kenya and the UK, was signed by former Kenya’s Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and the former UK’s Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid.
“However, it is necessary and fair that the government increase the offer for nurses pay so that more foregin health professionals are attracted to come to work in the UK.