Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system | 2016 figures indicate that there are 2,289 Ghanaian health staff under the United Kingdom’s (UK) National Health Service (NHS).
Ghana contributes the 15th most human resources to the UK’s NHS and other African countries feature prominently, with Nigeria contributing 5,040, South Africa contributing 1,626 and Egypt contributing 887.
UK nationals contribute 971,878 persons to NHS staff, which range from cleaners to midwives to doctors.
These figures will be unsurprising, considering the brain drain migration of health workers from low and middle-income to high-income countries.

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

The World Health Organisation predicts that the current global shortage of over-7 million health workers will increase to 12.9 million by 2035, with the poorest countries in the suffering the most from these shortages.

Sierra Leone, known to have one of the weakest health systems in the world, contributes 512 workers to the NHS. In 2010, the country had 136 doctors and 1,017 nurses, translating to one doctor for approximately every 45,000 people.

In the year 2014, when the UK’s NHS was voted the world’s strongest, it had 27 doctors and 103 nurses trained in Sierra Leone working for it.

This from the healthylifegh team’s observation of Ghana’s health need is not too good


Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghana’s deficit

For the Ghanaian context, the usefulness of Ghanaians to the UK’s health sector is highlighted in the 2006 estimation indicating that the money saved by the UK through the recruitment of Ghanaian health workers may have exceeded that which it gave to Ghana in aid for health.

Ghana, on the other hand, continues to struggle with a deficit of critical health workers. An assessment by the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association revealed that Ghana will need not less than 38,000 Nurses and Midwives to fill the nurses-patient ratio.

WHO standards peg 40 nurses for every 10,000 patients as an acceptable ration, but Ghana’s is said to be 22 nurses for every 10,000 people.

Deficits abound for doctors too, with one doctor attending to about 10, 450 patients – a far cry from the one doctor to 5000 patients ratio per the recommendations of the Commonwealth and the 1 doctor to 1,320 patients per the recommendations from WHO.

The role migrants play in the UK health system had led some to advocate for financial compensation for source countries.

The NHS would be “in dire straits” without migrant workers, according to one of the UK’s senior economists.

The 2010 WHO code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel attempts to deal with the brain drain but it does not mandate financial compensation for source countries.

Instead, Member States are urged to discourage active recruitment of health personnel from developing countries facing critical shortages of health workers.


Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

Acclaim for migrants

Some of these migrant health workers have risen to the pinnacle of their profession, including Ghana’s Cecilia Anim, who has received a CBE, (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen of England as part of the 2017 New Year Honours list.

Cecilia Anim is the President of the Royal College of Nurses, a position she has held since 2014. Her election as the Royal College of Nurses President was a landmark moment, as she became its first black president.


Ghanaians among top foreigners boosting UK health system

About Cecilia Anim

Born in Ghana, Anim attended school there and completed her midwifery training at Komfo Anokye Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana in 1968. Anim moved to the UK in the 1970s and completed the UK general nursing course at Hull Royal Infirmary. She later completed her clinical nurse specialist training in advanced family planning at the Bloomsbury School of Nursing.


Anim started her nursing career in her native Ghana where she worked as a midwife from 1968-1972. In 1977, having completed her UK general nursing course at Hull Royal Infirmary she took up post there as a staff nurse in paediatrics. In 1979 she began working at London’s Margaret Pyke Centre, where she continues to work as a clinical nurse specialist in sexual and reproductive health, alongside her RCN presidency.

A member of the RCN for over 30 years, Anim served as deputy president (2010 – 2014) before being elected president in 2015. She is currently serving her second term as RCN president having been re-elected in 2017. Anim is the first Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) president of the RCN.

With the current deficit in the country’s health sector, one only wonders what can be done, as to whether this is good news or bad news.

At last year’s launch of the International Day of the Midwife Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Ghana spoke about the deficit in the midwifery sector in particular.

He recommended that more attention be paid to midwifery education and training to bridge the glaring deficits to save lives of women and newborns.

He added during last year’s launch, that well-trained and supported midwives in communities would help reduce by two-thirds, the current maternal mortality ratio.

Kobby Blay, founder of Ghana Health Nest, and one of Ghana’s Mental Health professionals who is also championing health reportage recently posted;

Sweden’s overall standard of healthcare is generally high. It made the top-five best nations around the world in the Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ).

Sweden as at now has around 35,000 Doctors for its 10 million population, with some 25+ percent of its health workforce ‘imported’, and it still cries out loud “we have a shortage”.

Ghana, in the sub region, lying together with its neighbours at the bottom of health care access and quality (globally).. Has only around 2,500 doctors and 10,000 professional nurses to its 25 million plus population. Interestingly we are already putting quotas and limiting training of professionals, removing motivations, and making employment difficult for qualified professionals leaving those in practice endure the ernomous burdens and burn outs.

I keep wondering, when are we going to cap or export our ministers and government officials?…when are we going to limit their allowances?..when are we seeing our professional bodies rising to the occasion thinking 10 years ahead with regards to the future of healthcare (or nursing care – to be bias)?

Where do we go from here?

“The Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, has called on the government to prioritise employment of Graduate Nurses and Midwives to bridge the Nurses/Patient ratio gap that currently stands at one is to 22.

An assessment by the association reveals that Ghana will need not less than 38,000 Nurses and Midwives to fill the nurses-patient ratio.”

Healthylifegh will update you on the situation on 2017 once it is put out.

Credit: Kobby Blay,, GNA