WANTED: 100,000 Filipino nurses for UK, UAE hospitals, recruiters say

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2017 07:44 PM

MANILA - Hospitals in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are seeking to hire at least 100,000 Filipino registered nurses as the demand for health care workers in both countries continue to expand, recruiters from these countries said Thursday.

NEW HOSPITALS IN THE UAE

At least 20,000 registered nurses will be needed in Dubai alone as the emirate plans to open 15 more hospitals in the next three years, Vijaya Sen, Human Resource Director of the UAE-based Zulekha Hospital, told ABS-CBN News.

Vijaya Sen, Human Resource Director, Zulekha Hospital. Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

"UAE healthcare market is growing... Currently, we have 35 hospitals in Dubai and 20 more hospitals in the northern emirates. These numbers will grow in the next three years," she said.

Sen said she came to Manila to recruit Filipino nurses as Zulekha Hospital in the UAE expands in the Gulf region.

"Filipino nurses have the required skills, they are very good in communication. It is an inherent quality to be courteous, and caregiving comes naturally to them," the she added.

Sen said registered nurses who work in the UAE usually start with a P100,000 monthly salary that is tax-free. Established hospitals such as Zulekha offer free accommodation and a guaranteed salary increments every two years.

A paid 30-day annual leave, sick leaves, medical insurance, and overtime pay are also provided for migrant workers in the Gulf state, Sen said.

"Filipinos nurses won't have a hard time adjusting in the UAE because language is not difficult to know. The language that is commonly used is English. The country embraces all faiths and religions," she said.

BREXIT-DRIVEN VACANCIES

There are around 80,000 current vacancies for registered nurses in the United Kingdom as many nurses are either retiring or heading back to their home countries, Matthew Richards, Kings Commercial recruitment chief, told ABS-CBN News.

Matthew Richards, recruitment chief, Kings Commercial. Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

"There's a trend of shrinkage as less nurses enter the workforce. We also see about one-third of our nursing population retiring or leaving the occupation in the next 15 years," Richards said.

"We are finding it difficult to attract people into the nursing profession because of political influences like Brexit. We're finding European nurses leaving the UK to go back home to still be a part of the European Union," he added.

Richards said most British hospitals prefer to hire Filipino workers due to their talent in tending to patients.

"Nurses in the Philippines have a general caring nature, provide a high level of empathy and compassion towards patients," he said.

Registered nurses in the UK are entitled to bring their families with them, and can avail of free health care and education, the recruitment professional said.

"If a Philippine nurse gets a visa, they will be entitled to bring their families to the UK provided that they can demonstrate that he or she can support the family," he said.

Richards said nurses in the UK earn about EUR 22,100 annually, or P110,000 per month. Flights to the United Kingdom, accommodation, and meal vouchers are usually shouldered by the employers.

"We realized that Filipino nurses get homesick so they are also given 27-day leaves that they can use to travel back to the Philippines, or visit other countries," he said.

Though adjusting to life in the United Kingdom is easy, Filipino nurses will have to take English language proficiency tests and practical examinations, and adjust to the British nursing culture to become a successful applicant.

"Nurses must understand the nursing culture in the UK. It is evidence-based nursing where they are expected to demonstrate how and why they are doing that particular procedure on the patient," he said.

BRAIN DRAIN

With Philippine-based nurses earning between P8,000 to P18,000 a month, the government has been struggling to keep nurses and other health workers in their homeland.

Last month, the Commission on Higher Education announced that medical students enrolled in state universities and colleges will enjoy free tuition provided that they will render several years of service in the Philippines after graduation.