Nurses flock to UK

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Nurses flock to UK
Nurses flock to UK

Africa-Press – Botswana. The Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has struck a deal that will see Batswana nurses flock to the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS). The trailblazing union, which has been scoring multiple court victories for members, has partnered with NEU Professionals Limited to facilitate the employment of Batswana nurses.

NEU Professionals Limited, an international healthcare recruitment agency headquartered in London, was formed in 2013 with the specific aim to help support NHS Trusts and Health Boards with the recruitment of nurses from overseas. According to BONU secretary for International Affairs Pinkie Mpinba-Joseph, their partnership with NEU will see Batswana have it easier to work abroad. “The UK has a prerequisite for one to take and pass an English test for them to work there. Our nurses have been struggling as some do not have money while others have money but do fail. The partnership will see NEU pay for the nurses’ English tests as well as train them to be ready to take up their jobs,” she said.

Mpinba-Joseph said for a long time they have been trying to get Batswana nurses to be exempted from writing the English test. She said they argued that just like South Africans are exempted from writing the test, it should be the case with Batswana as they are also educated in the English-medium. “We tried so many times in the past to facilitate this but we failed.

We even approached Dr Unity Dow and Dr Lemogang Kwape but they failed to intervene. We are happy that now we will be able to facilitate the exportation of these nurses without any fears of human trafficking or anything of that sort,” she said, adding that they will be visiting the UK soon for further due diligence and to see where the nurses will be working. She said thus far, they have received over 700 applications from those interested in working in the UK. “Currently, they are looking for those to deal with mental illness and thus far we have over 500 applicants for that. We would then be looking into midwifery for which we already have over 200 showing interest,” she said.

Mpinba-Joseph further said they expect to retain their members who go to the UK and would facilitate for them to continue paying their contributions. She said even those who are not BONU members would be eligible to benefit provided they join the union. On engaging government and how this could affect the Botswana health system, Mpinba-Joseph said they have not engaged government on the matter. She, however, said they believe that the programme will assist nurses roaming the streets to get employment as well as expose those already employed as nurses to greener pastures.

She revealed that they expect to send out the first cohort in the next two months. “We have one Trust which is looking for 200 nurses currently. We are in discussions with Another one and are yet to establish how many they will need.

Those selected will be trained and seat for the English test before those who pass can then go to the UK. We will be looking at having at least 300 nurses leaving annually,” she said.

Efforts to get a comment from the Health Ministry proved futile by press time. Minister Ediwin Dikoloti’s mobile phone rang unanswered. His assistant Sethomo Lelatisitswe referred the publication to Public Relations Office. Ministry’s Chief Public Relations Officer Dr Christopher Nyanga said they would respond a questionnaire from this publication early next week.

The publication wanted to establish from them their view on the matter and find out if they are prepared for the mass exodus. The Ministry of Health has in the past acknowledged the need to employ most of the graduate nurses but bemoaned that their ministry is constrained by the availability of posts to absorb the annual output, which on average is around 250 to 300.

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