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Kenya sends first batch of nurses to the UK

The 13 nurses who are set to travel to the UK pause for a photo with Ministry of Health officials and representatives from the UK government. [Samson Wire, Standard].

Thirteen Kenyan nurses have got an opportunity to work in the United Kingdom.

The medics are beneficiaries of a bilateral agreement signed by Kenya and the UK government.

Last year, Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, said it would send 20,000 nurses to the UK as it sought to improve the welfare of its migrant workers overseas. 

Initially, the recruitment exercise was marred with controversy when only 10 of 300 nurses passed English language tests required for the NHS jobs.

And yesterday, the government said the 13 nurses had passed the tests and were ready to work in the UK. 

Speaking during a ceremony to see them off, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Italy and Kuwait have also expressed their interests to have nurses sent to their countries.

“We have also received an offer for Kuwait but we want to be done with the UK process first. The fact that Kenya’s ambition is to become a health care hub can only happen if the recipients are open-minded about the opportunities,” said Kagwe.

The CS noted that the ministry is building the health workforce with a focus on health promotion which will enable the nurses to come back as entrepreneurs to create more job opportunities locally.

He assured Kenyans that the cohorts have been trained and prepared well so that they can achieve the scores they need.

“The nurses we are flagging off today are well trained and have passed the test of English proficiency. All the candidates have the language ability to be productive in their destination country,” he said. The UK High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, disclosed that nurses were recruited by the Oxford University Hospital Trust with an addition of six more nurses to leave the country in about two weeks.

The diplomat was upbeat that the qualification of the nurses was testimony of Kenya’s high quality and competence of her health workers.

“Today marks a new era of international recruitment of Kenyan nurses to the UK through a government-to-government arrangement. This is a milestone in the implementation of the health workforce collaboration agreement,” said Marriott.

She noted that another 70 nurses have been identified and currently being matched with potential employers in the UK and will be travelling to the UK in the next months.

Further, she urged the nurses to show high standards during their stay in the UK.

Two nurses each were picked from Vihiga and Kirinyaga while one each was picked from Busia, Kisii, Murang’a, Marsabit, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Nyamira, Migori and Siaya counties.