25 May 2023
The UK remains one of the most internationally connected health systems, with over 200 nationalities represented by our healthcare workforce. The 1 in 6 NHS staff who report a nationality other than British bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and cultural perspectives that contribute to the enhancement of healthcare systems worldwide.
THET’s Diaspora Staff and Global Health Survey is an opportunity to hear directly from our UK diaspora staff. This survey will document and platform the voices of internationally recruited staff and map the connections we have to global health systems. This will allow us to better harness the expertise of our multinational workforce so that we can enhance the quality of care provided to patients, promote cultural understanding, and strengthen healthcare systems across the globe.
For me, strengthening diaspora engagement in health systems overseas has been central to my work. In 2011, I co-founded the Ugandan Diaspora Health Foundation (UDHF). The foundation, alongside several partner organisations such as East London NHS Foundation Trust – Butabika Hospital Link, Uganda, works to ensure cultural sensitivity towards mental illness and works to promote Ugandan leadership in Global Health programmes improving health of Ugandans in the UK and Uganda.
The NHS can benefit greatly from its diaspora staff and their contributions to the UK health system and health systems overseas cannot go unnoticed. We need to help shift the dial, to combat the unconscious bias and racism that shapes attitudes to information exchange and bidirectional learning between the UK and LMICs. These barriers have a detrimental affect on career progression and the undervaluing of skills has a direct impact on the crucial exchange of knowledge. Knowledge that will benefit our health system and allow us to continue innovating and improve global health outcomes.
THET’s Diaspora Staff and Global Health Survey is a tool that we can use to take the necessary steps forward in recognising and celebrating diaspora expertise. The survey maps the connections our international healthcare workforce have to their home countries and the expertise they have built. By platforming these stories, we can work as collective to shape the future of global health and democratise the space so that it includes the voices that are often ignored and undervalued.
These examples demonstrate how internationally trained healthcare workers have imparted their knowledge and expertise on the UK health system, enriching it with diverse perspectives and innovative solutions. By recognizing and celebrating diaspora expertise through initiatives like THET’s Diaspora Staff and Global Health Survey, we can enrich our healthcare systems with diverse perspectives and innovative solutions.
As we strive to build a more inclusive and effective healthcare system, it is essential to recognise the expertise and unique contributions of internationally recruited healthcare workers. I strongly encourage all diaspora healthcare workers in the UK to participate in THET’s survey and help us shape the future of global health. By sharing your experiences, you can make a significant difference and contribute to the ongoing efforts of improving healthcare systems worldwide.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution and although the effects may not be felt overnight, urgent and extreme action is needed now to improve global health outcomes.