The Scandal of Foreign Nurses with Bogus Papers

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The headline I’ve used is one from The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday of this week, following the Victorino Chua case. But it could just as easily have been one from stories in The Daily Mail.  Or The BBC.

This media focus creates a climate of fear and worry around foreign workers, without whom, let it be said, things might just grind to a halt.

I do acknowledge that there are some problems with employing foreign workers. These are more usually language difficulties, but in many cases speaking a foreign language can be a major ‘plus’. For me developing The Care Locker, one of the biggest is being able to match qualifications. But these are practicalities, and everyone has those to deal with.

But looking a little closer at The Telegraph piece: as soon as the Victorino Chua case came to light and it became apparent that qualification forgery was rife in The Philippines, the Nursing Midwifery Council launched an investigation into the background of more than 14 thousand non-EU nurses, including 11.5 thousand from the Philippines. They found nothing except gaps in monitoring systems, which they’re tightening up.

It must be, for all patients, extremely worrying and desperately concerning.

Thus ran the “pull quote” in big, bold letters on the front page of the Telegraph. It is worrying, of course, when the people we trust as caring professionals shock us. But do we need to terrify already vulnerable people?

Can we keep some calm? We hear about the bad cases because they’re unusual. Most days pass without incident. No-one writes about us going to work or waking up each day, because it’s happening as expected.

Can we, instead, perhaps:

– take a good look at what happens to ‘whistle blowers’? Someone, somewhere, will have had a doubt but kept silent because they’ve seen the consequences of ‘telling’.

– look at how we  – and the police – deal with accusations and investigations. Let’s not forget the (British) nurse, Rebecca Leighton, who was wrongly accused of Chua’s crimes.

– look at processes to ensure that good care professionals’ backgrounds and qualifications are properly checked before employment?

– stop vilifying foreign workers. Chua was bad because he was bad, not because he came from the Philippines. Howard Shipman – English. Run a search on Google for ‘doctors struck off’ – page one, all born and bred here. Yes, there are examples of people in the caring professions of all nationalities, in all areas, from both the UK and abroad , who’ve gone bad. Perhaps if we paid our carers better, offered them more respect and better conditions, we’d attract more professionals rather than the few who are doing it because there’s nothing else for them?

More than 90,000 of the workers registered to work in the UK were trained overseas. Many have been here over a decade. With no problems. A witch hunt on foreign workers will leave us understaffed and with more patients at far more risk than they were ever at before.

Give me one caring, capable, easy-to-get-along-with professional irrespective of qualifications, over one with qualifications running up their arm but only interested in academia.

I’m not making light of the Chua case or of any other wrongdoing. Just pleading that we do the RIGHT things in response.

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