Expert Opinion – Why the UAE Attracts Healthcare Professionals from the UK

shutterstock_69124417 lrGiven the limited number of healthcare professionals worldwide, the demand for their services increases as the world’s population grows. To meet this demand healthcare professionals will become more transient, often working in several countries during their career.

Current evidence suggests that new nursing graduate enquiries have risen by 65%, with the UAE topping the list of desired locations, followed by Australia.  Unlike before, qualified nurses are increasingly viewing an overseas career stint as part of their essential training and experience gathering.

A decade ago, the UK was the place to be. The City was strong, National Health Service (NHS) spending was uncapped, and the immigration of the 2000s was well underway as the EU enlargement of 2004 welcomed in Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The UK also had an influx of much-valued Australian and South African healthcare workers, among many others, who all came for the abundant job opportunities with their well paying salaries, as demand for services steadily increased. Britain was seen as a safe haven for well-paid jobs backed by a strong Sterling.

Then recession caused turmoil in just about every country and suddenly the honeymoon was over. With immigration remaining high on the political agenda, the first caps were placed on non-EU nationals. And the tide of Australians began to slow down and reverse. The reasons were clear.

Healthcare salaries in Australia over the past few years improved significantly.  Many healthcare workers making a go of it in Britain have since returned.

The story doesn’t end here. It’s not possible to go into a hospital in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth without hearing British accents from their top doctors and surgeons to nurses. The UK has seen a sizeable number of its healthcare workers, seeking the experience and lifestyle, move down under as its native healthcare workers have ended their stints in Britain.

All through this period the UAE has continued its steady demand for global healthcare professionals as its population has grown.

So where does this leave us today? And is this just a tail of woe for Britain?  The reality is that there is a global shortage of registered professional healthcare workers, unlike ever before.

We know this for a fact because we requested freedom of information from the GMC (General Medical Council), NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) and the HCPC (Health and Care Professional Council) in the UK, which clearly indicates that there is an all-round decline in new registrations of global healthcare practitioners. Figures indicate new global healthcare registrations are down 15%.

Most, if not all countries at the moment need more healthcare workers across the board, however Britain is facing unprecedented demand from a rapidly growing – and ageing – population, with rising numbers of frail and elderly patients requiring treatment for long-term illnesses.

The demand for healthcare workers within Europe has dramatically increased over the last decade with many countries adopting recruitment strategies from neighbours. An example of this, is the UK recruiting nurses from Ireland, and now Ireland is seeking to recruit nurses from the UK. Neither have the numbers required to meet their present requirements.

The rise in the number of healthcare facilities within Dubai and Abu Dhabi has raised the awareness of this location among many qualifying nurses within the UK. As the region’s reputation as a centre of excellence for healthcare facilities grows, the more healthcare staff will see it as part of their career development to work in such specialist and state of the art facilities: gaining valuable professional experience and life skills at the same time.

The UAE’s commitment to becoming the leading centre for medical tourism, has led to the opening of specialist modern facilities which in turn has led to a greater attraction for healthcare professionals from the UK to the region.

As more overseas staff work within the UAE there will be an imparting of skills which is going to aid the development of locally trained healthcare staff, this will create an air of best practice, and help create an up skilled workforce with the additional advantage of being able to adopt best practice from a worldwide source of healthcare systems. This is where the UAE has its global advantage.

Over time this will lead to less of a dependency on overseas healthcare professionals and the increased employment of localised staff who would have developed their own brand of healthcare professionalism and excellence.

By Greg Wood, Commercial Director, Your World Healthcare, UK

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