Special Treatment

David Green, founder of Remedium outlines a new code of practice in the health sector and there implications for recruitment.

On the 25th February 2021 the UK government announced changes to the Code of Practice for the international recruitment of health and social care professionals. The Code of Practice now aligns with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice on ethical recruitment to promote effective, fair and sustainable international recruitment practices.

The five guiding principles of the new Code of Practice are outlined by NHS Employers below:

  1. International migration of health and social care personnel can make a contribution to the development and strengthening of health and social care systems to both countries of origin and destination countries if recruitment is managed properly.
  2. Opportunities exist for individuals, organisations and health and care systems to train and educate and enhance their clinical practice.
  3. There must be no active international recruitment from countries on the list, unless there is an explicit government-to-government agreement with the UK to support managed recruitment activities that are undertaken strictly in compliance with the terms of that agreement.
  4. Recruitment of international health and social care personnel is closely monitored and reported on to the Cross Whitehall International Recruitment Steering Group.
  5. International health and social care personnel will have the same legal rights and responsibilities as domestically trained staff in all terms of employment and conditions of work. They will also have the same access to further education and training and continuous professional development.

Internationally trained staff have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. With 16 per cent of nurses and 36 per cent of Doctors in England trained outside of the United Kingdom the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) recognises that ethical international recruitment has a crucial role to play in achieving its commitment to fulfilling the shortage of 50,000 nurses by 2024. But there still remains an equally debilitating shortfall of Doctors, with over 13,000 vacancies. This has increased by 2,000 since lockdown in March and the number continues to rise.


Fair treatment

The new Code of Practice will provide support to overseas healthcare professionals and ensure that they are fairly treated. In addition to this it outlines how the UK is supporting countries with the most pressing health and social care workforce challenges.

Safeguards have been put in place against active recruitment from 47 countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List. The previous list of 152 countries was last updated in 2003. The significantly reduced list has now opened the UK to a much wider international pool of healthcare professionals including Doctors and consultants.

The strengthened Code of Practice is welcomed by Remedium. Our mission is to solve the UK healthcare staffing crisis. We have offices in London, Mumbai and Glasgow, and are experts in strategic permanent staffing solutions that reduce excessive agency locum spend, for example a permanent overseas Doctor can save the NHS on average £100,000 to £300,000 in comparison to an agency locum over a 2 year period. Remedium’s approach to recruiting permanent healthcare professionals from overseas has contributed to savings of over £200 million in public funds to date.

As leaders within the international recruitment space for consultants and Doctors we welcome the revised changes to the Code of Practice. We champion the principles and best practise guidelines outlined by the Code. It is by meeting NHS compliance requirements that we have become a trusted NHS partner placing over 2,000 permanent or fixed term Doctors from over 40 countries.

The Code of Practice outlines how the UK can work collaboratively with governments from around the world, forming partnerships to benefit health and social care workers, their country of origin and the UK. Previously Nigeria was a large contributor to Doctor and nurse recruitment into the UK before the new Code of Practice was announced. With this in mind Remedium would welcome the UK government to open conversations with the Nigerian government to review Nigeria as one of the countries on the safeguard list.

As a collaborative business we are keen to lend our support and welcome the opportunity to work collectively with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Employers to continue updating and strengthening the Code. So far, we have created employment opportunities for over 1200 Indian Doctors placing them in over 80 NHS trusts. This has been achieved through partnering with several healthcare providers in India.


Induction practice

One of the Code of Practices main aims is to provide international personnel with high standards of induction and support while working in the UK. Having secured positions within the UK many of the Doctors are faced with challenges before they arrive such as finding a home in a suitable location, arranging schooling for their children and setting up bank accounts. In response to this Remedium offers a number of support services to international candidates the main being an award-winning onboard relocation platform called Red Carpet which provides overseas Doctors with a complete online relocation solution, supplying everything from rental and property sourcing across the UK, to finance arrangements, local property market insights and schooling advice for families. Thus, supporting their transition into the UK.

There are a number of benchmark practices that have been laid out by NHS Employers which all organisations that comply with the code will apply and agree to abide by. The highlights are below but the full list is at www.nhsemployers.org

  • All international recruitment by health and social care employers and contracting bodies will follow good recruitment practice and demonstrate a sound ethical approach.
  • International health and social care personnel will not be charged fees for recruitment services in relation to gaining employment in the UK.
  • All international health and social care personnel will have the appropriate level of English language to enable them to undertake their role effectively and to meet registration requirements of the appropriate regulatory body.
  • All appointed international health and social care personnel must be registered with the appropriate UK regulatory body.
  • All international health and social care personnel required to undertake supervised practice, by a regulatory body, should be fully supported in this process.
  • Health and social care employers and contracting bodies should record international recruitment activities. This will support the UK to monitor and measure the impact of international recruitment flows on the health and social care sector in both the country of origin and the UK.

Whilst Remedium will champion the new Code of Practice, it is strongly advised that all healthcare organisations and agencies recruiting internationally adhere to the code. The Code of Practice has installed stronger ethics which will support better health and care overseas, and a level playing field for all.

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