Stop the Lies, UK Does Not Stop Recruitment of Overseas Nurses, Doctors

Has UK stopped the recruitment of foreign doctors and nurses into the NHS or Care Homes? The answer is simple and it is NO! Below is an explanation of the rumours going round the social media space.

On February 26, 2021, the UK government updated the guideline on the recruitment of overseas Nurses and doctors and ever since then there has been misinterpretation of the guideline by various blogs and invdiduals. The new guideline forbid the active recruitment of health workers from resource constraints countries. Part of the Guideline reads:

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UK recruiters are not permitted to actively recruit from these countries unless there is a government to government agreement in place for managed recruitment.

These countries are:Afghanistan




Burkina Faso



Central African Republic



Congo, Democratic Republic of

Côte d’Ivoire


Equatorial Guinea




Gambia, The












Micronesia, Federated States of






Papua New Guinea


Sierra Leone

Solomon Islands


South Sudan


Tanzania, United Republic of




Yemen, Republic of

While this may look new to many people who are seeing it for the first time, the truth is this has been in existence for ages and usually reviewed every three years (3). This latest edition is the new review of the 2019 guideline.

UK position is in tandem with the World Health Organization policy popularly called the Kampala Declaration. It was a joint decision for WHO member States not to actively recruit health workers from poor countries. This declaration came to force in 2008 and member countries such as UK has been implementing this guideline. You can download the WHO Guideline on Recruitment of Health Workers from WHO_HSS_HRH_HMR_2010.2_eng.pdf;jsessionid=E5A5614DF24BB2AD1F9BFB6394D10843

UK employers have not been doing active recruitment of Nurses and doctors in poor countries listed above over a decade. What they do is passive recruitment of Nurses from those countries.

Active recruiting means UK employers flying down to those countries on the red list and offering the Nurses a job after conducting physical interview like they do in Philippines and India.

Passive recruiting on the other hand means UK employers set up a website and advertise their jobs online on a UK website such as NHS job portal NHS Jobs – Candidate Homepage , , Care Home Jobs UK – UK Care Home Job Vacancies etc and applicants applying online, attend interview online etc As long as UK employer doesn’t board a plane and come into your country to recruit the applicants, that is called passive recruitment which is allowed by the UK government. This is how UK employers have been recruiting from countries on the red list without violating the WHO guideline.

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Below are example of cases of what constitutes active recruitment and passive recruitment released by UK government on it website:

The following case studies show recruitment activity in breach of the code of practice.

Case study 1

An agency advertises within a red country on the list and actively supports several candidates from that country with their applications, appointments and travel to the UK. This would be deemed active recruitment and contravenes the guiding principles within the code of practice.

Case study 2

An agency runs a recruitment fair in Nigeria highlighting opportunities in the UK. Nigeria is on the list and should not be actively targeted for recruitment. The agency does not actually hire anyone. This would still be deemed active recruitment and contravenes the guiding principles within the code of practice.

Case study 3

An agency or organisation with multinational contracts advertises in Uganda. They highlight that they are recruiting to a different country (that is, not the UK), however they also have contracts in the UK. It later transpires that the agency facilitated a candidate’s arrival to work in the UK. This would still be deemed active recruitment and contravenes the guiding principles within the code of practice.

Case study 4

A recruitment agency is approached by an individual working in a country on the list who has been referred to the agency by their friend who is working as a social care nurse in the UK. The agency supports the individual with their application and makes a bonus payment to their friend for the referral. This is in breach of the code of practice, an agency should not facilitate the recruitment process unless the candidate has already been appointed by the employer through a direct application. In addition, referral fee schemes are deemed to be active recruitment and are not permitted in countries on the list.

The following case studies show acceptable recruitment activity under the code of practice.

Case study 5

A nurse from Sudan applies to work in the NHS unassisted. He is interviewed by the trust and deemed successful for the post, subsequently travelling to the UK on receipt of his visa. This activity did not include any active recruitment therefore does not contravene the code of practice.

Case study 6

A doctor from Nepal is working in Canada having relocated there five years ago. An agency advertises in Canada and the doctor is picked up in the cohort and wishes to come to the UK. This activity is not in breach of the code of practice; ethical recruitment is determined by the country from which the individual is being recruited, rather than the nationality of the individual.

Case study 7

A nurse from Pakistan applies directly to a social care employer in the UK and is successfully appointed. The social care employer requires the support of a recruitment agency to facilitate the nurse through the remaining part of the recruitment process. This activity is not in breach of the code of practice.

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