Nov 28, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

More news on the UK nursing shortage: the National Health Service (NHS) plans to recruit 5,500 nurses from Jamaica in a new program to help alleviate 34,000 unfilled nursing positions.

In this "earn, learn, and return" partnership, Jamaican nurses will work for the NHS for about three years, then return to Jamaica with new skills and experience.

Last year, the NHS tried a similar scheme with India, with the goal of recruiting 500 nurses.

Why Jamaica? The nurses are highly qualified, with at least four years of training.

The UK Health Department said that the program will also support the Jamaican government in improving the quality of nurses who return.

The UK government is working on a similar scheme in the Philippines, too.

According to an April 2018 article in the Independent, Donna Kinnair, director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said that while the organization supports “sharing skills and learning with colleagues across the world” this must not "deprive poorer countries of vital health workers".

“The government needs to make urgent investment decisions to grow and retain our domestic workforce while fostering opportunities for nursing staff across the world to share skills and expertise," she added

“The government must also be careful not to patronize nurses who trained in Jamaica, where training standards are very high.”

The Independent also reported that health minister Stephen Barclay said, “The NHS is blazing a trail in healthcare across the world and it is a testament to the skills and expertise of our dedicated nurses that other countries are vying for their knowledge to help improve their own services.”

“I’m delighted that we’re partnering with Jamaica in this scheme, which will build on our existing collaboration with India, and further demonstrates the government’s commitment to forging new international relationships in preparation for the UK to leave the European Union.”

Learn more about nursing in the UK. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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