Health & Science

England stops recruiting healthcare staff from Kenya, except for nurses

England will restrain from hiring Kenyan healthcare professionals, despite an agreement between the governments in July. But the recruitment of nurses still remains possible.


On November 11, England updated it code of practice and decided to stop recruiting healthcare personnel from Kenya, except for one category of workers.

Five months ago, Kenya had yet the ambition to become the “Philippines of Africa“, referring to the large community of Filipino healthcare staff working in the UK.

According to the NHS, forbidding recruitment from Kenya aims to protect Kenya’s health system.

The United Kingdom’s health agency updated its Code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in order to follow ethical international recruitment. The code refers to the World Health Organization guide on recruiting medical personnel in order to strengthen national health systems.

A list of countries in which the code applies was first published in February 2021. Kenya is therefore added to the 47 other developing countries where the UK prevents from recruiting healthcare and social worker staff. Most of the restrictions cover African countries.

From now on, no active recruitment will be allowed for most healthcare and social workers from Kenya, although the NHS allows for advanced recruitment process to continue.

British Covid-19 vaccines and Kenyan nurses

With only 900 Kenyan working across all healthcare roles in England, a government-to-government partnership on healthcare was signed in July 2021.

Kenya received 817,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses from the British. In return, the UK would recruit 50,000 “qualified but unemployed Kenyan nurses” by 2024, and “support the training of Kenya’s healthcare professionals” for a brief period. Kenya explains the memorandum of understanding enhances a transfer of skills and knowledge.

If the new rule established in England is more restrictive, each of UK’s 4 nations adhere to the guiding principles of the code of practice but each holds its own code, it however doesn’t forbid the recruitment of nurses.

Kenya is the only country having an agreement with the UK for a category of healthcare workers and a strict restriction for the others.

Read more about the United Kingdom

Code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England, UK department of Health and Social care, Free accessPresidential visit strengthens healthcare partnership with Kenya, Department of health and Social care, July 2021, Free accessImplementation of the bilateral agreement between Kenya and the United Kingdom, Cabinet secretary of Labour, July 2021, Free access

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