ACCRA. – The recruitment of nurses by high-income countries from poorer nations is “out of control,”according to the head of one of the world’s biggest nursing groups.
The comments come as the BBC finds evidence of how Ghana’s health system is struggling due to the “brain-drain”.
Many specialist nurses have left the West African country for better paid jobs overseas.
In 2022 more than 1 200 Ghanaian nurses joined the UK’s nursing register.
This comes as the National Health Service (NHS) increasingly relies on staff from non-EU countries to fill vacancies.
Although the UK says active recruitment in Ghana is not allowed, social media means nurses can easily see the vacancies available in NHS trusts.
They can then apply for those jobs directly.
Howard Catton from the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is concerned about the scale of the numbers leaving countries like Ghana.
“My sense is that the situation currently is out of control,” he told the BBC.
“We have intense recruitment taking place mainly driven by six or seven high-income countries but with recruitment from countries which are some of the weakest and most vulnerable which can ill-afford to lose their nurses.”
The head of nursing at Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Gifty Aryee, told the BBC her Intensive Care Unit alone had lost 20 nurses to the UK and US in the last six months – with grave implications.
“Care is affected as we are not able to take any more patients. There are delays and it costs more in mortality – patients die,” she said.
She added that seriously ill patients often had to be held for longer in the emergency department due to the nursing shortages.
One nurse in the hospital estimated that half of those she had graduated with had left the country – and she wanted to join them. – BBC.