Challenges of recruiting nurses from Nepal | Nepal

Re your article on recruiting nurses from Nepal by Pete Pattisson and Pramod Acharya (‘If we leave, Nepal will suffer’: embattled hospitals fear impact of UK job offers, 14 March), the global healthcare systems face unprecedented workforce pressures, and international nurse recruitment and migration policy experts suggest this will continue.

As a Nepali nurse with almost 30 years’ healthcare sector experience, I think that both authors accurately and pertinently highlight the key issues and sad truth around the UK government’s plan to recruit nurses from Nepal. However, there are a few additional points worth raising about source and destination countries: the two dimensions of international recruitment and migration.

First, thousands of qualified Nepali nurses in Nepal remain unemployed, a legacy of Nepal’s chaotic expansion of nursing education in the past two decades. The loss of experienced nurses to the UK is significant for Nepal. However, nurses also seek employment in other affluent destination countries, such as the United States and Australia. Further, there are many nurses migrating abroad via non-nursing routes. The UK government’s pilot recruitment of 100 nurses is just a drop in the ocean.

Second, there is a general agreement that the UK’s healthcare system is at breaking point, with its nursing workforce in crisis. Yet many Nepali nurses view the UK as a utopia. However, it is far from being the imagined land of opportunity: witness the nationwide strikes by junior doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Nurses who aspire to work in the UK need to know the UK context so that they are able to make informed decisions. The working terms, conditions and challenges faced by healthcare workers, wherever they work, must be clear and equitable.
Radha Adhikari
Nurse migration researcher and author of Migrant Health Professionals and the Global Labour Market