In what may be regarded as one of the biggest examples of the brain drain syndrome in the Nigerian health sector, no fewer than fifteen thousand Nigerian nurses have obtained licenses to practice in the United Kingdom in the last five years, between March 2017 and 2021.
According to report from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK, Nigeria is the third country with highest number of foreign nurses in England, trailing the Philippines and India in that order.
In the United Kingdom, the NMC is the body responsible for the registration of professionals qualified to practice in the region. Apart from registration, the body is also saddled with the investigation of concerns about nurses, midwives and nursing associates.
The report reads, “The number of people on the permanent register in England who trained outside the European Economic Area continues to grow. As of March 2017, the body stated that 2,670 Nigerian nurses registered on the register. In March 2018, the body noted that 2,678 registered between March 2017 and March 2018”.
“March 2019 saw a record of 2,771 while the number of nurses who registered between March 2019 and March 2020 increased to 3,205. Within this period, the body noted that it opened a temporary COVID-19 register to accommodate nurses willing to practice”.
Although the NMC did not disclose the number of Nigerian nurses on the temporary COVID-19 register, it stated that a total of 3,725 Nigerian nurses registered and were granted licenses, between March 2020 and March 2021.
This development has further compounded the precarious situation in the Nigerian health sector which is facing very serious challenges of brain drain as medical doctors and other health workers have continued to seek greener pastures abroad. The situation does not show any sign of abating in the nearest future as health workers in the country have continued to complain about unfavourable working conditions.