In Summary

• The deal was signed on July 29 on collaboration in the healthcare workforce.

• It allows Kenyan healthcare professionals to work in the National Health Service of the UK.

The first batch of Kenyan nurses to join the UK healthcare workforce is expected to leave at the end of this month.

Kenya will send 20,000 nurses on a three-year contract in an agreement signed between the two countries when President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the UK in July.

The bilateral agreement was signed on July 29 for collaboration in the healthcare workforce. It permits Kenyan healthcare professionals to work for the National Health Service.

The Labour ministry, through the National Employment Authority, has been mandated to recruit qualified nurses to the UK in collaboration with the Health Ministry.

Health PS Susan Mochache, her Labour counterpart Peter Tum and officials from the Nursing Council of Kenya have been to the UK to negotiate terms.

“The visit is also meant to explore ways of strengthening the health system back in the country to make Kenya have global standards in training and patient care in addition to addressing unemployment for our nurses,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The team held meetings in London with the Department of Health and Social Care, the National Health Service, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Oxford Hospital Foundation Trust and Manchester University and Christie Foundation Hospital.

The nurses are projected to earn about Sh450,000 a month. According to Chelugui, they will get three-month free accommodation on arrival for the three-year contract. The deal is renewable for another three years.

The UK government will pay for air tickets, with each nurse receiving a further Sh750,000 relocation allowance.

“Those willing to take permanent UK citizenship will also be eligible after working for five years,” Chelugui said. 

The aim of the deal is to capitalise on qualified but unemployed health workers in the country.

There are 894 Kenyans working across all roles in the NHS in England, making Kenyans the 30th largest nationality group.

A statement by the British High Commission in Nairobi said the special arrangement was part of a request by the Kenya government to capitalise on qualified but unemployed health workers.

In July, Kenyatta witnessed the signing of the Kenya-UK Health Alliance, which will bring together the UK and Kenyan universities and teaching hospitals.

“Our health partnership with Kenya is 30 years old and growing stronger by the month. This new agreement on health workers allows us to share skills and expertise even further, and is a fantastic opportunity for Kenyans to work in the UK,” British High Commissioner Jane Marriott said.

Among areas of interest in the new deal is improving treatment and prevention and management of cancer in Kenya.

“From Covid-19 vaccines and genomic sequencing to exchanges on cancer research and treatment to help Kenya treat more cancer patients at home, the UK has a long and proud history of support for Kenya’s health sector,” Marriot said.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses has since welcomed the deal, saying it will help create jobs for more than 30,000 unemployed nurses in the country.

Knun secretary general Seth Panyako said it will also diversify the skills of nurses who are currently in practice to gain experience in international standards of health practice. By Magdalena Saya, The Star