Saturday, 13 April, 2024
HomeNews UpdateNigerian nurses probed for massive NHS qualifications fraud

Nigerian nurses probed for massive NHS qualifications fraud

British authorities are investigating a scam involving more than 700 NHS staff who used proxies to pass a key test in Nigeria that enabled them to be registered to work in the UK, and possibly risk thousands of patients’ lives.

The Royal College of Nursing said hundreds of frontline healthcare workers were treating patients, despite being under investigation for their part in the alleged “industrial-scale” qualifications fraud, reports The Guardian.

“It’s very worrying if … there’s an organisation involving itself in fraudulent activity, enabling nurses to bypass these tests, or using surrogates to do exams for them… because the implication is that we end up in the UK with nurses who aren’t competent,” said Peter Carter, the ex-chief executive of the RCN and ex-chair of three NHS trusts.

He praised the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for taking action against those involved.

Nurses coming to work in the UK must be properly qualified, given their role in administering drugs and intravenous infusions and responding to emergencies such as a cardiac arrest, Carter added.

Forty-eight of the nurses are already working as nurses in the NHS because the NMC is unable to rescind their admission to its register – but they have been told to retake the test to prove their skills meet NHS standards.

The 48 will face individual hearings, starting in March, at which they will be asked to explain how they apparently took and passed the computer-based test (CBT) of numeracy and clinical knowledge taken at the Yunnik test centre in the city of Ibadan.

The times recorded raised suspicions because they were among the fastest the nursing regulator had ever seen.

But the NMC is taking more direct action with a 669-strong second batch of Nigerian health staff – again mostly nurses, but also including about five midwives – whose test results were also obtained through fraud.

Most have also already arrived in the UK, but they are mainly working as healthcare assistants in the NHS and care homes. That is because the NMC has not approved their applications to join its register while it continues to investigate widespread impersonation at the Yunnik centre.

About 80 nurses from the 669 applicants have obtained a new CBT test and applied to join the NMC register.

However, the regulator has banned almost all of them because it has “serious concerns” about their honesty and trustworthiness.

The deception at Yunnik has led to the NMC declaring the CBT test results – apparently obtained by 1 955 Nigerian-trained health professionals – to be invalid.

All of them, even including the 1 238 about whom the regulator says it cannot prove fraud was involved, have been given three chances to resit the CBT test, or face expulsion or exclusion from the register.

“We have concerns that 48 people already on the register obtained their test result fraudulently. Hearings will be held where an independent panel will decide whether they gained fraudulent entry to our register,” said Sutcliffe.

“There are 669 applicants to the register about whom we have the same fraud concerns. We’ve refused entry for most of the 80 applications we’ve considered so far, and they can appeal.”

The future of the 717 nurses remains unclear. The GMB union fears that those refused entry on to the NMC register will be returned to Nigeria. It said nurses had been “exploited” in Nigeria, and urged the NMC to let those with suspect test results be allowed to retake the test in the UK.

The NMC has stopped using 40 of the 800 test centres worldwide it used before the Yunnik fraud came to light, including Yunnik itself.


The Guardian article – NHS nurses being investigated for ‘industrial-scale’ qualifications fraud (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Future UK nurse misconduct hearings could be behind closed doors


UK nursing’s English language tests criticised as too stringent


NHS abandons target of 5,000 new foreign nurses a year




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