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Ministry of Health disapproves sending nurses to UK

With hundreds of nurses having registered and close to 200 already packing their bags to London, Health Ministry says it has never received any official communication from Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) regarding the recruitment.

UK is said to be currently facing a severe shortage of nurses. This saw BONU and NEU Professionals Ltd, an international healthcare professional recruitment agency headquartered in London, announced a partnership for the recruitment of Botswana nurses into the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. However, the Ministry of Health has told this publication that they have not received any official communication regarding the procedure but seen media reports on the matter.

“The Ministry has not received any official communication regarding recruitment of nurses under it’s deploy or any other professionals for that matter. Indeed the ministry has seen media reports on the matter,” Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Christopher Nyanga said.

On annual basis it is said, nursing schools in Botswana produce around 350 graduates yearly although graduates are roaming the streets. The government has only managed to absorb around 50% of graduates since the past two years. Not only that, nurses who were working at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital during the peak of Covid 19 have not had their contracts renewed.

Regardless of the statistics, the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Dr Nyanga articulated that, “The Ministry has no desire to see any of its professionals leaving since we need all of them to advance the mandate of the Ministry and save the lives of all Batswana and residents of this country”.

However, the union with the soaring unemployment and unsatisfactory conditions of service believe they are right to stand for the rights of their members. On the other hand, Kerry Wykes Director NEU Professionals, disclosed that they had previously been unable to recruit from Botswana.

“We do not actively recruit healthcare professionals from developing countries,” she said. Reason being that WHO had listed Botswana among the 152 developing nations to not recruit from. Botswana has since been removed from the said list.

“NEU Professionals is committed to ensuring that ethical recruitment practices within the organisation operate through adherence to the UK Code of Practice for international recruitment. We align with World Health Organization’s advice on ethical recruitment to promote effective, fair and sustainable international recruitment practices,” she highlighted.

It was said that the nurses will not to be charged a single Pula for the entire relocation process. The agreement between BONU and NEU Professionals is that Batswana will be exempted from writing IELTS which is a pre requisite English examination needed when one is to relocate to the UK, the examinations attract charges and NEU Professionals will be footing the bill.

Wykes had already went on to explain that; the nurses will receive an all expense paid relocation package that will include VISA, flights, medical insurance, accommodation, IELTS exams and free schooling for dependants. NEU Professionals over the next coming week will be conducting interviews in Gaborone, Lobatse and Francistown with over 700 interviewees lined up for the opportunity. Fresh graduates are eligible as well, however 6 months to a years’ experience is highly recommended.”

BONU spokesperson, Aobakwe Lesolame has added that, “Up to 700 Botswana nurses have signed up to work in the UK which more than 60 nurses are off to the country”. Despite the Ministry’s declination of receiving any conventional dispatch, the executive nurse from Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), Professor Natalie Hammond, enunciated that, “The nurses joining us from Botswana will reduce the number of nursing vacancies at our Trust resulting in better patient experience, and more support for our current staff”.

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