Nigerian Doctors’ Exodus to the UK Raises Concerns Over Brain Drain

The findings of an investigation conducted by PUNCH Online have revealed that there has been a substantial influx of Nigerian-trained medical professionals to the United Kingdom. Since May 29, 2023, about 1,197 medical professionals have relocated to the United Kingdom.

Nigerian Doctors' Exodus to the UK Raises Concerns Over Brain Drain

According to figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) of the United Kingdom, Nigeria is on the verge of surpassing Pakistan, potential standing as the country with the second-highest number of foreign-trained doctors in the United Kingdom, trailing after India, which presently holds the lead. This enormous departure places Nigeria in a situation where it is at the possibility of exceeding Pakistan.

Within the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council (GMC) is the authoritative body that is responsible for maintaining the official registration of medical practitioners. In spite of the fact that 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors were granted licenses between May 29 and December 1, 2023, the overall number of licensed Nigerian doctors in the United Kingdom is currently 12,198. This number does not include Nigerian doctors who went to school in other countries.

In addition to specialists in occupational medicine, ophthalmology, pediatrics, pathology, public health, psychiatry, and surgery, the distribution of these professionals encompasses a wide range of medical specialties. There are 73 professionals working in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, 61 professionals working in emergency medicine, 241 professionals working in general medicine, and 207 professionals working in obstetrics and gynecology. The numbers of these professionals vary within these fields.

Concerns concerning a loss of intellectual capacity within the Nigerian healthcare system have been expressed as a result of the growing tendency of medical professionals choosing opportunities outside of the country. Concern has been voiced by the Nigerian Medical Association at this growing rate, which has led them to anticipate a potential future scenario in which Nigeria may be need to import doctors in order to satisfy the requirements of the local medical community.

As the Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Professor Emem Bassey brought attention to the greater breadth of this issue by emphasizing that not only are professionals relocating to the United Kingdom, but neighboring African countries are also recruiting from Nigeria. As a result of the significantly greater earnings offered by these nations, specialists are drawn to countries such as Sierra Leone and Gambia, where incomes are reputedly three to four times higher than what they make in their home country.

The healthcare industry is currently facing a significant lack of trained workers, which includes physicians, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and a variety of other health specialists. This deficit is contributing to the ongoing crisis of talent flight from the country. There is a critical need for strategic interventions to maintain and incentivize local talent inside the healthcare system, which is highlighted by the fact that this outflow poses enormous problems to Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure.

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