Between 2015 and 2022, no fewer than 6,068 medical doctors have moved to the United Kingdom. This is according to data obtained from the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom.
The data showed that the total number of Nigeria-trained doctors who migrated to the UK as of August 30, 2022, stood at 10,096.
Nigerian doctors who got medical qualifications in schools outside the country are not included in the data.
The data revealed that 233 Nigerian doctors passed the examination to practise in the UK in 2015.
The number increased to 279 in 2016, while the figure was 475 in 2017.
In 2018, the figure rose to 852 while it further increased to 1,347 in 2019.
In 2020, the figure was 833 despite the fact that the GMC closed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The figure for 2021 was put at 932. So far in 2022, the data revealed that 1,107 Nigerian-trained doctors have been licensed to practise.
Presently, Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.
The migration of healthcare professionals, especially doctors, pharmacists, and nurses has been an issue which has led to crises in health facilities across the country. For some, funding the health sector, especially budget allocation by the government, in Nigeria is of great concern.
Other practitioners are also of the opinion that health professionals are underpaid. Recall that in 2021, during the heat of COVID-19, the National Association of Resident doctors embarked on strike action to protest against several abnormalities in the country’s health sector. The strike lasted for two months.
Speaking at a symposium, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Uche Rowland, said “In 2015, 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK; in 2016 the number increased to 279; in 2017 the figure was 475, in 2018, the figure rose to 852, in 2019 it jumped to 1,347; in 2020, the figure was 833 and in 2021 was put at 932,” Mr Rowland said.
According to him, a total of 727 medical doctors trained in Nigeria relocated to the UK in six months. This was between December 2021 and May this year; an indication that the total figure for 2022 would be higher than previous years.
The Nigerian Polling organisation in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch in a 207 survey, revealed that about 88 per cent of medical doctors in Nigeria were seeking work opportunities abroad at the time.
Also, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria said that more than 100 of its members left the country within 24 months. A 2022 UK immigration report also showed that 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers (including doctors) were granted working visas in the past year, making the country second only to the 42,966 from India.
This has further led to serious distortion in the already poor doctor-patient ratio of 1:5,000 in Nigeria as against the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of 1:600.
Rowland said the doctor-patient ratio will increase as the country continues to lose medical practitioners to the developed world. He said from 1963 to date, Nigeria produced only 93,000 doctors, which is inadequate to cater to the general population.