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THET launches new report in Senedd

19 January 2024


Report finds 74% of diaspora NHS staff attribute positive care practices to overseas experience.

A new report titled, The Voices of the Experts in Our Midst, launched at the Senedd by the Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET) on 11th January, celebrates diaspora healthcare workers who connect the NHS to 214 health systems around the world.  

The report which focuses on the experience of diaspora healthcare workers in Wales was published as part of THET’s Experts in Our Midst programme, which aims to harness the knowledge diaspora staff have of other health systems to develop practical solutions that improve health service delivery in the UK and overseas. The launch of the Wales report in the Senedd followed the launch of England report in the Houses of Parliament in December.   

Speakers at the report launch at the Senedd included Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip, and Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales. In powerful speeches, Minister Hutt spoke to the need for cross-party support for diaspora health workers while Sue Tranka spoke to the benefit internationally recruited health workers bring to NHS Wales. 

The launch event was further enriched by powerful contributions from diaspora healthcare workers featured in THET’s Voices report. Dr Mesbah Rahman, a gastroenterologist based in Swansea, shared his pivotal role in reshaping medical education and specialisation in Bangladesh. Amanda Daniel, Lead Nurse Specialist for IPC Primary and Community Care at Public Health Wales, reflected on her extensive overseas experience and deep understanding of infection prevention, demonstrating the benefits of bidirectional learning between Wales and overseas health systems. Both Dr Rahman and Amanda Daniel embody the significant impact of diaspora healthcare workers in fostering a global exchange of knowledge and expertise, beneficial for health services in Wales and overseas. 

The event also highlighted the programmes broader achievements through a speech delivered by Kokila Swamynathan, a nurse from Wales on secondment to THET. Reflecting on her role as Diaspora Engagement Advisor, Kokila emphasised the ongoing necessity of this work. Returning to Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and as a new Trustee of the Wales and Africa Health Links Network, Kokila is poised to continue driving the momentum of this work in 2024 and beyond.  

Between January to October 2023, THET surveyed 685 diaspora healthcare workers from 70 countries of heritage, 41% of which currently work in Wales with the remaining 59% from England, with responses overwhelmingly highlighting the benefits of overseas training and practice. 74% of responses identified positive practices of diaspora staff within the NHS attributable to overseas experience, while 35% of diaspora staff surveyed say they are involved in improving health in their countries of heritage.  

THET also conducted a series of focus groups in September and October 2023, which give a more nuanced understanding of the diaspora health worker experience. Here, diaspora health workers often reported that they felt disregarded and undervalued despite their extensive experience. Of those who reported negative experiences of working in the NHS, a concerning 61.5% believe they are unrecognised or underutilised. 

Conversely, the new report also finds many positive experiences of diaspora health workers within the NHS. Respondents referenced opportunities for professional development, a positive working environment, access to world-class training, and an improvement over time toward better onboarding and adaptation to the UK health sector for new diaspora entrants.  

Importantly, the report underscores the significant contribution diaspora health workers make to improving global health. The results illustrated in the new report highlight the extent of bi-directional benefits of diaspora-led global health initiatives, including research partnerships, exchange programmes, and bi-directional practice based and technological innovations.   

THET’s vision is a world where everyone has access to quality healthcare, and the NGO hopes that the new report will support the ambitions of the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan and contribute to the long-term aspirational role of Wales in deploying ethical international recruitment strategies for high quality Universal Health Coverage.

This post was written by:

THET - External Engagement Team


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