How doctors from Nigeria work like slaves in UK hospitals

  • Nigerian doctors in the UK are lamenting excessive working hours imposed on them by their workers
  • A BBC investigation revealed that most of the doctors from Nigeria are going through what they call slave labour
  • The doctors said they work 24 hours, seven days a week and are not allowed to leave hospital grounds

A BBC investigation revealed how doctors recruited from Nigeria work like slaves and are exploited to the hilt by their employers.

The doctors say they are overworked and fear they might jeopardise their health and that of their patients.

Nigerian doctors, UK, Hospital, BBC
Nigerian doctors lament exploitation by UK hospitals
Credit: LaylaBird
Source: Getty Images

Nigerian doctors in UK narrate experiences

The BBC investigation on Nigerian doctors in the UK was published on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.

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The investigation revealed evidence of how British healthcare companies recruit doctors from Nigeria to work in private hospitals under stipulations that the National Health Service did not allow.

A Nigerian doctor who spoke to BBC, Augustine Enekwechi, working at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital last year, stated that he was approached by NES Health, a private company specialising in recruiting doctors from abroad.

Enekwechi said he was offered visa sponsorship and a potential job by NES Health. He said he did not notice that the contract took him out of the law that protects UK workers from excessive working hours and left him powerless to deduct his salary.

Enekwechi stated that his work hours were too much, on call 24 hours daily for a week at a time and that he could not leave the hospital premises, saying that working there was like a prison.

According to Enekwechi, working long hours and being tired puts the patients and himself at risk, including law suits. He says anything could go wrong.

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The British Medical Association described the situation as stunning and said the healthcare sector needs to align with the NHS working practices.

Femi Johnson, another Nigerian doctor who worked at another hospital, said he was expected to work 14 to 16 hours daily and then be on call overnight.

Johnson said he was burnt out and tired, saying it’s not humanly possible to do that every day for seven days.

He said the NES contract stipulated that when he needed a break, NES would deduct the time from his salary to cover the cost of finding a replacement.

Doctors from Nigeria make up majority of African doctors in the UK

The BBC investigation found that NES employs about 188 Resident Medical Offices while other employees are by other recruiting agencies.

The finding revealed that 92 per cent of the doctors came from Africa, while 81 per cent were from Nigeria. They complained about excessive working hours and unfair deductions from their salaries.

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NES told the BBC that feedback from doctors’ experiences with the firm was positive, saying it provides doctors with a safe and supportive route to hone their career in the National Health Service and the UK healthcare system.

UK licenses 266 Nigerian doctors in two months as Diaspora remittances rev up Nigeria’s external reserves reported the General Medical Council which offers licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the United Kingdom has licensed about 266 Nigerian doctors in June and July, 2022, according to a report by The Punch.

What that means is that three Nigerian doctors were licensed per day in June and July irrespective of the moves by the Nigerian government to stop the mass movement of doctors and health workers in Nigeria from moving abroad in search of green pastures.

Data obtained by the MC register shows that the number of Nigeria-trained doctors currently in the US stands at about 9,976.


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