On Saturday the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially ended travel restrictions for Filipino healthcare workers, allowing the NHS to restart recruiting from the region.
This is promising and long-awaited news, but numbers are presently being restricted to a maximum of 5,000 a year, to ensure the Philippines retain enough medical professionals for their own needs during the ongoing pandemic.
Why is the Philippines an important region for the NHS?
Filipino nurses are very well regarded across the global healthcare industry, as their training is conducted to an exceptionally high standard. In a briefing with Reuters, the Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said, “the world respects and looks up to Filipino healthcare workers” describing them as “one of the best”.
The NHS employs more Filipino nurses than any other overseas nationality, as does the United States. They are also sought-after in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Singapore. Last year, almost 17,000 nurses in the Philippines signed contracts to work overseas.
Why the change now?
In recent months, Filipino nurses have been appealing to the Government to let them take jobs abroad. With COVID-19 cases and deaths dropping to levels that the country can manage, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is now crafting the official resolution lifting the temporary ban, which has been in place since April.
What does it mean for the NHS?
With supply already curtailed for over six months due to the ban, the 5,000 cap is expected to intensify global competition to secure Filipino nurses. As a result, the NHS will need to act fast to ensure it gets a fair share of the limited nursing talent available. Medacs Healthcare's Head of UK Permanent Nursing Simona Bertolo said:
“We’ve worked hard to maintain our pipelines of Filipino nurses and we already have over 100 lined up for imminent interviews. Most already have all the qualifications and paperwork they need in place, so can be flown over and onboarded very rapidly.
With our network of accredited partners in the Philippines, we are in a strong position to take advantage of this change in rules, but it is critical that our NHS partners get the recruitment process moving quickly or we risk losing them to other nations.”
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