THE United Kingdom (UK) is now the top destination for Filipino health-care workers (HCW) after the Covid-19 pandemic that began early last year highlighted their key roles in the health crisis, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
This, despite the 36.83-percent decline in the number of HCWs deployed to the European country in 2020.
In an online press briefing on Wednesday, POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia said the UK was able to gradually outpace last year other traditional destination countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Germany in terms of recruitment of HCWs.
He surmised that the surge in demand for Filipino HCWs in the UK could have been brought about by the labor shortage of the healthcare sector in the said country, which was worsened by the pandemic.
“Nurses are in demand in other European countries. Those who left the UK probably saw better opportunities in other European countries,” Olalia said.
Based on preliminary data obtained by the BusinessMirror from POEA, a total of 2,391 health associate professionals were deployed in the UK last year, which is lower compared to the 3,785 in 2019.
The bulk or 2,358 of those deployed last year were nurses followed by medical imaging and therapeutic equipment technicians (18), specialist medical practitioners (13) and general medical practitioners (2).
The number of Filipino HCWs is expected to continue to increase in the coming months after the government exempted the UK earlier this year from the 6,500 annual deployment cap imposed by POEA for HCWs.
In response to the growing number of deployed HCWs in the UK, DOLE is set to sign a new memorandum of understanding with the UK government on Friday to boost the protection and working conditions of HCWs there.