International healthcare recruitment code toughened up

A tougher code on international recruitment – preventing hospitals from actively recruiting nurses and other healthcare professionals from developing countries – has been announced by the Government.

Health secretary John Hutton said the UK already led the way in terms of ethical recruitment, but the revised code would mean the independent sector, which has faced criticism for stripping developing nations of vital health professionals, would be covered.

The key proposals are:

– all independent sector companies providing NHS care will sign up to the code of practice through stipulations in their NHS contract

– the new code closes the loophole that allows trusts to recruit temporary and locum staff from developing countries; and

– the code will be extended to cover 200 more recruitment agencies, to include those that supply domestic staff to the NHS.

The revised code will apply from December 2005.

The Department of Health also has recruitment agreements with the Philippines, Spain and India, allowing limited recruitment from these countries.

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