Investigations by TheNewsGuru.com TNG have revealed how a United Kingdom based recruitment firm, NES Healthcare selected, interviewed and offered employment to 58 Nigerian doctors during the novel coronavirus disease [COVID-19] pandemic.
TNG reports that the doctors were leaving for the United Kingdom to resume their new jobs when they were apprehended at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) on Friday by officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for not having visas.
The spokesman of the service, Mr Sunday James in a statement on Friday in Abuja, noted that the doctors attempted travelling aboard a UK bound aircraft flight number ENT 550 with registration number SP-ES that flew in from London.
According to him, 56 of the doctors had no visa for entry to the United Kingdom, while only two (2) had visa.
NES Job Advertorial, Intimidating salary and other mouth watering offers
Checks by TNG revealed that the advertorial by NES Health Care, a UK-based firm that helps over 150 private hospitals to recruit doctors from all over the world.
The advertorial reads in part, “Are you a doctor with ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and anaesthesia experience, looking for a better work/life balance? At NES Healthcare we can offer you this with one of our ICU RMO positions.
“You will be working in a private Hospital group, and we have various locations around the UK. The rotation is one week on duty then one week off + accommodation and meals are provided free of charge during your on duty week.
“To apply you will need a minimum of three years post-graduate experience and have 18+ months of ICU and Anaesthesia experience. Salary is from £45,384 to £98,112 dependent on experience. Contract is for a minimum of one year. You will need to hold full GMC Registration with a licence to practice, or be eligible to apply.”
The firm states that its aim is to successfully address the acute shortage of doctors in the UK and to do so in a way that simultaneously reduces overall expenditure.
Nigerian doctors ‘rush’ offer
As expected the vacancy had hardly dropped before Nigerian doctors who had all along received shabby treatments from both state and federal governments jumped on the offer.
According to reports, the recruitment process dated as back as January this year with thousands of doctor applicants. Some of the successful candidates wrote their exams and interviews via Skype.
Many of them had also been offered employment in the UK and had processed their necessary documents through the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and obtained security clearance from the Nigeria Police Force attesting to the fact that they had no criminal record.
TNG reports that in direct comparison based on data available on NES website, doctors (Resident Medical Officer, Medical Officer, etc.) in the UK earn between £33,288 (N16.2m) to £98,112 (N47.9m) per year depending on the experience they have. While Nigerian doctors earn between N80,000 ($206) and N150,000 ($387) per month for doctors with less than three years experience working in public hospitals.
Botched final stage
The doctors who seem to have perfected all requirements for their new job were however not fortunate enough as they couldn’t scale the final emigration stage owing to the closure of the UK embassy since April due to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, NES would have none of that. The coy reported got the UK government to intervene and subequently granted the Nigerian doctors visa waivers to allow them fly in and process their visas in the UK. The doctors were also asked to pay £500 (N244, 500) to secure a seat on a chartered aeroplane that would fly from the UK to convey them from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, because Nigeria had not yet lifted the ban on international flights due to the Covid-19. The doctors received a mail from NES recruitment director to that development which reads: “I am the recruitment director with NES Healthcare and I would like to inform you of an important update. As you are aware, the TSL Contact Visa Centres in Nigeria are currently closed and there is no guidance when they will be re-opening.
“In addition, we are aware that there are no immediate plans to re-open Nigerian airspace to international/commercial flights.
“We have therefore been in discussions with UK Visas and Immigration about a potential solution that would allow you to travel to the UK. With their agreement, we will issue you a visa waiver letter. This will allow you to travel to the UK and then apply for your visa once you are here.
“We are also planning to arrange a private charter flight to the UK leaving from Nigeria… The cost of the flight will be heavily subsidised by NES Healthcare so we will only ask for a contribution of £500 towards this.”
Why we stopped 58 Nigerian doctors from travelling to UK
According to reports, about 58 of the doctors made the payments to deadline. It was while they wanted to board the flight to UK that the Immigration officials stopped them.
Defending their action in a statement, the NIS spokesman said: “The 58 medical doctors were refused departure in line with Section 31 subsection 2a and b, of Act 2015. The chartered flight approved for landing in Nigeria was to carry 42 medical doctors for a training program but they were 58 with only two having visas for entry into the UK, a situation that calls for refusal of departure.”
“This is to avoid refusal of entry and repatriation back to Nigeria amidst COVID-19 pandemic. And also spreading of same as well as flouting the Federal Government’s directive on restriction of international flights unless for essential reason as approved by government.
“There is no official communication to the Service from the Ministry of Health in Nigeria or any known Medical body notifying the NIS of the travel of this number of medical doctors. The aircraft has departed for London without the medical doctors.