London: UK’s National Health Service has warned against headhunters who charge nurses a fee in violation of rules that require them to recruit for free professionals from India, China, the Philippines and some African countries. The public health service has threatened to cancel the licenses of recruitment agencies after media reports suggested that some of them had made applicants in India cough up as much as Rs 1 lakh.
The recruitment agencies have been making a killing after the NHS announced plans to recruit about 20,000 nurses from abroad in the next three years to meet a severe shortage of nurses. About 6,000 of these vacancies are marked for Indians but some agencies in states such as Kerala were found to be claiming that they have been asked to hire as many as 5,000 nurses.
The NHS requires the recruiters to select suitable job candidates after explaining to them the working conditions and pay packages offered by each trust - all this free of charge. The agencies are not supposed to demand a single paisa from applicants because the NHS trusts has promised to reimburse the cost of recruitment and pay them a commission per successfully recruited nurse.
However, many agencies are fleecing nurses who want to work in the UK by demanding up to a lakh as “handling fee” or “registration fee”. British media including the ‘Daily Mail’ has reported on the recruiter’s exploitation in India.
Unscrupulous agencies are cashing in on a lack of awareness by health care professionals in India. Some of them even lobby religious leaders to issue a circular to boost their credibility with the faithful. The agencies offer to land nurses a dream job in the UK by misleading them about the recruitment process.
Some agencies tell the candidates that they could be selected even without passing an English proficiency test if the interview board is convinced about their fluency in the language. In reality, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has waived the mandatory requirement of passing the IELTS course for applicants from countries where English is spoken, only when they pass an occupational English test.
However, such nurses are required to produce documents to prove that they had been conversing with patients and their families in English. This waiver is applicable only for nurses who had finished their courses in the last two years.
On the ground, the recruiters are advertising that they could land thousands of nurses jobs in the UK for a fee which is illegal in the country.