UK Government updates policy on Zimbabwean healthcare staff recruitment

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By The Southern African Times

THE United Kingdom (UK) has announced that Zimbabwe is now on the Red List therefore, active recruitment is no longer permitted from Zimbabwe including a number of countries deemed to reeling from healthcare shortages post the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes after the fourth progress report on the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: fourth round of national reporting, contained in document WHA75/14 which noted that the negative health, economic and social impact of COVID-19, coupled with the increasing demand for health and care workers in high-income countries, might be increasing vulnerabilities within countries already suffering from low health workforce densities.

Accordingly, an Expert Advisory Group was re-convened to review all countries with low workforce density to consider how disruptions related to COVID-19, particularly health-related vulnerabilities, might require the revision and extension of safeguards against active international recruitment.

Active international recruitment in the code is defined as the process by which UK health and social care employers target individuals to market UK employment opportunities, with the intention of recruiting to a role in the UK health or social care sector.

It includes both physical or virtual targeting, and whether or not these actions lead to substantive employment.

In a notice seen by The Southern African Times, the UK government stated a few exceptions to this definition which include candidates who would have already been appointed by a UK employer following an independent direct application and selection process without the support of a recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration.

In this case, if required, these organisations can support and facilitate the employee’s passage to the UK. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration, if challenged, to provide evidence that the services they are providing are permitted under this exception.

An additional exception to recruitment in redlisted countries would include a government-to-government agreement negotiated and signed by the DHSC on behalf of the UK government and recruitment is consistent with the provisions of the agreement.

Where recruitment is restricted solely to the terms of the government-to-government agreement, the country will appear on the amber list. Such agreements can be designed to help regulate or mitigate against any negative impacts of health or care migrant flows to the UK. All agreements will take WHO guidance on the development of bilateral agreements into account.

The government-to-govern would need to  take steps to ensure that migration to the UK will not exacerbate existing health and social care workforce shortages in the country of origin, and the country of origin derives proportional benefits as set out in the ‘Health workforce development and health systems sustainability’ section below.