Nigerian Doctors in UK Lament Exploitation, Slave Labour
Doctors recruited from Nigeria to work in the UK hospitals have complained that they are being exploited.
The Nigerian-born Doctors believe they are overworked and fear that they could jeopardize the health of their patients. This is according to a BBC investigation published on its website on Tuesday.
The investigation found evidence of how a British healthcare company is recruiting doctors from Nigeria to work in private hospitals under conditions not permitted by the National Health Service.
One of the doctors who spoke to the BBC, Augustine Enekwechi, a Nigerian doctor who worked at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital in 2021, said he was approached by NES Healthcare, a private company that specializes in hiring doctors from abroad, and offered sponsorship from Visa. and a possible job.
The doctor said he was unaware that the NES contract excluded him from the law that protected UK workers from excessive working hours and left him vulnerable to a range of pay deductions.
Enekwechi added that his working hours are extreme – on call 24 hours a day for a week – and that he cannot leave the hospital premises. He says working there felt like being in a “prison”.
“I knew working tired put patients at risk and put myself at risk, including for litigation,” he says. “I felt helpless… helpless, you know, constant stress and the thought that something could go wrong,” he told the BBC.
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However, the British Medical Association described the situation as “shocking” and said the industry must comply with NHS working practices.
Another doctor, Dr. Femi Johnson, who worked at another hospital, said he also works 14 to 16 hours a day and then be on call overnight.
“I am exhausted,” he says. “I am tired, I need sleep. It’s humanly impossible to do this every day for seven days.”
Johnson added that the NES has the right to deduct money from his salary to cover the cost of finding a replacement doctor when he needs a break.
“In situations like that, I always have this internal discussion with my inner self – ‘Femi, are you doing what’s right for you and are you doing what’s right for the patient?’” he told the BBC. “Unfortunately, I haven’t always been able to answer that question.”
It turns out that 92 percent of these doctors were recruited from Africa and the majority – 81 percent – were from Nigeria. Most of them have the same complaints about long working hours and unfair pay deductions.
Dr Jenny Vaughan of the Physicians Association said she has received many complaints from resident physicians and said the UK healthcare system has evolved on two levels – one for NHS doctors and the other for international recruits working in the private sector.
“No NHS doctor does more than four nights in a row because we know frankly that it’s not safe,” said Dr. Vaughan.
“This is slave labor with… overtime that we thought was over 30 years ago. For patient safety reasons, it is not acceptable to patients. It’s not acceptable to doctors,” Vaughan said.