Refugee healthcare professionals

Ear examination

NHS Employers is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Non-Government Organisations (NGO's) to help place skilled refugee healthcare professionals back into employment.

We are currently exploring with trusts their workforce shortages to match against a number of skilled professionals currently in Lebanon and Jordan. Through connecting with Talent Beyond Boundaries, ourselves and DHSC are seeking a small cohort of trusts to take part in a financially supported pilot which aims to start in April 2021.

The pilot will initially focus on nurse recruitment and if successful may be rolled out wider.

We are also engaging with RefuAid who have a number of skilled professions here in the UK seeking employment in the NHS. If you are interested in discussing your current vacancies with RefuAid please get in touch with

Information about regional work

  • Reache North West was set up to assist refugee and asylum seeking healthcare professionals in the North West to register their qualification in the UK. So far they have helped 224 healthcare professionals to secure roles. Based at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, it provides advice and guidance, job search support, PLAB courses, support in finding supervised practise/adaptation and access to resources.
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust is helping to assist skilled refugees into NHS roles through the healthcare overseas professionals (HOP) programme.
  • The Building Bridges programme, run by the Refugee Council  is a NHS funded partnership for refugee health professionals living in London. The Refugee Council assist refugee doctors to re-qualify to UK standards and secure employment appropriate to their professional qualifications.

Best practice

NHS Employers has produced the following materials to support NHS trusts in employing refugee healthcare professionals.

Employing refugee healthcare professionals

The employment of refugee healthcare professionals has many benefits for employers and helps NHS organisations to meet their requirements in a number of areas, including workforce supply, equality and diversity and corporate social responsibility.

A refugee is a person who has had a positive decision on their claim for asylum under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention) and has been granted leave to remain in the UK. Refugees are forced to leave their countries due to fear of persecution, often as a result of direct state action.

Refugees should be considered differently to economic migrants. They are not currently part of the points-based immigration system, where migrants are required to meet a particular level of skills and experience and employers are given sponsorship duties. They are able to work in the UK without any restrictions or the need for visas, and are legally protected from discrimination.

Guidance for employers on preventing illegal working, asylum seekers and refugees can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website. The Refugee Council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have also produced the Employing Refugees guide which provides employers with important information about employing a refugee and what documents need to be checked to demonstrate their entitlement to work in the UK.

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