COVID-19 put spotlight on Pinoy nurses' importance to UK, says London-based official

Published July 9, 2021, 2:12 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic made the United Kingdom (UK) realize just how important Filipino nurses and healthcare workers (HCWs) were to that country.

(Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

Thus, said Labor Attaché in London Amuerfina Reyes in a virtual press briefing Friday, July 9, wherein she gave an idea of just how preferred Filipino nurses and HCWs were among locals medical institutions.

“Dito sa UK ang laki talaga ng demand nila sa nurses and healthcare workers (The demand for nurses and healthcare workers is really huge here in the UK),” Reyes said.

“Alam mo naman, lalo na noong nagka COVID-19, lalong nakita yung kahalagahan na makakuha ng nurses at HCWs sa Philippines. Paboritio nila tayo dito (When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they realized just how important it was to hire nurses and HCWs from the Philippines. We are favorites here),” she said.

Reyes said this is due to the common overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) trait of not just the willingness to work hard, but putting one’s heart into their hard work.

She said ther are currently more than 30,000 Filipino nurses and HCWs in UK, with the vast majority of them being nurses.

“Ang kailangan kasi nilang nurses dito up to 50,000 until 2024 (There is a need for 50,000 nurses here until 2024),” the Philippine official said. She said employment opportunities in the sector opened up due to “Brexit”.

It should be noted that the UK is the only country so far that is exempted from the Philippines’ deployment cap on nurses and HCWs. The deployment cap is currently set at 6,500 a year.

The exemption means that Filipino nurses could continually be deployed to the UK, whether or not the cap has been met.

Reyes said that 2,000 Filipino nurses and HCWs were deployed to the UK in 2020, the year the pandemic emerged.

For the first half of 2021, some 2,000 Filipino nurses and HCWs have already been deployed to the European country. “Additional 2,000 to 3,000 ang kakailangan pa this year (An additional 2,000 to 3,000 will still be needed this year),” she said.