HANACS’ UKNFS Chapter takes action to support representations and UK News media (Observer and Daily Mail) coverage on DHSC initiative to unilaterally break UK Government compliance with the WHO ‘Red-Listing’ of recruitment of healthcare professionals from Nepal

HANACS precursor organisation of almost a decade, the UK Nepal Friendship Society (UKNFS) whose official patron had been Ambassadors of Nepal to the UK, Ireland, and Malta, has continued as a HANACS constitution ‘Objects’ chapter to ensure continuity of the major UK Nepali community direct, all sections of the community, support initiatives UKNFS work. This includes newly recruited from Nepal citizens, including healthcare and all other UK employment sectors workers (https://hanacs.org/update-on-exploitation-of-nepali-nationals-recruited-in-nepal-working-in-exploitative-circumstances-in-the-uk/).

Since early 2022 the UKNFS has been in communication with the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in regard to major ethical and practical concerns about an initiative of the UK Government to engage in an initiative that would subvert Nepal’s WHO (World Health Organisation) healthcare professionals ‘Red Listing’ (a mechanism instituted to prevent haemorrhage of badly needed medical staff through developed nation status countries such as the UK receiving recruits through direct and indirect outreach recruitment methods and mechanisms from such countries as Nepal).  The DHSC is the UK Government department that directs guidance for international recruitment for the UK’s NHS.

Early in 2022 the UKNFS was assured that the UK was complying with honouring Nepal’s WHO Red-Listing status.  Recently, months on we have learned, sadly, that the DHSC has entered into (on DHSC initiative as we understand, and linked to the NHS staff retainment and recruitment crisis) an MoU with its counterpart in Nepal, was signed.  This unilaterally breaking the WHO Red-Listing agreement concerning Nepal, and setting a terrible unethical present that has been adversely commented on officially by the WHO itself and by a lead of the UK’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – the UKNFS is referred to in the article: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/25/plan-to-recruit-nepal-nurses-for-nhs-puts-them-at-risk-of-exploitation

Ahead of the Observer article, and a comparable Daily Mail article coming out, the UKNFS communicated with the DHSC lead on international healthcare staff recruitment, providing a focused detailed points and questions representation to the latter, that included a clear formal request on ethical and practical counteraction of debt bondage concerns, immediate halting to implementation of the MoU. 

Currently, after a protracted non-response to our formal request (and associated questions, Which include about workplace conditions of internationally recruited NHS staff in general, including particularly LGBT community members) we received last week a helpful reply from the DHSC international recruitment lead Mr Dave Howarth, promising that a formal reply will soon be provided by the Department’s Permanent Secretary, Sir Chris Womald.  We will provide an update soon.