The head of a prominent nursing organization has expressed concern over the “out of control” recruitment of nurses from poorer nations by wealthier countries.
This issue has come to light as the BBC discovered evidence of Ghana’s struggling health system due to the brain drain caused by nurses leaving for better-paying jobs overseas.
Over 1,200 Ghanaian nurses joined the UK’s nursing register in 2022, despite active recruitment not being allowed. Ghana’s dire economic situation acts as a significant push factor for nurses seeking better opportunities abroad.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is worried about the scale of nurses leaving countries like Ghana and the impact on vulnerable healthcare systems. Ghanaian hospitals, including the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and Cape Coast Municipal Hospital, are experiencing severe nursing shortages, resulting in compromised patient care and increased mortality rates.
The departure of experienced nurses also hinders the training of new nurses. Smaller clinics are similarly affected, as even the loss of one nurse can have significant repercussions. Ghanaian nurses expressed their desire to leave the country due to poor working conditions and significantly higher earnings abroad.
The Nurses and Midwives Association emphasized the need for more support in Ghana’s healthcare system and expressed concern over the ethical implications of recruitment from countries with low nurse-to-population ratios.
While the UK government has provided financial aid to Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya to strengthen their healthcare workforces, discussions are underway to establish a formal agreement with Ghana that would allow proactive recruitment in exchange for financial compensation.
However, critics question the true costs to countries losing their nurses and the ethical aspects of such deals. The impact of Brexit has also led the UK to seek nurses from African countries as a substitute for European labor.