Sunday 20 June 2021

Refugee healthcare workers can help solve staff shortage in NL: report

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The government and care organisations must do more to make jobs in healthcare accessible to qualified refugees, the government advisory committee on immigration ACVZ said in a report out on Tuesday.

The Netherlands is currently short of some 56,000 healthcare workers and by 2030 the figure may be as high as 130,000.

The coronavirus crisis has not made any difference when it comes to encouraging refugees with a background in healthcare to come forward, the committee concluded. However, some 173 doctors and 23 nurses offered their services at the start of the pandemic via the association for foreign certified doctors.

The COA refugee settlement agency found another 37 asylum seekers who had sufficient language and training skills to qualify for a job in care. But in the end, just three found work as volunteers via the Red Cross at the Ikazia hospital in Rotterdam.

Refugees face many legal and administrative stumbling blocks to working in healthcare. Not only do they have to wait for years for their asylum requests to be dealt with, but they then must go through a long and the costly four year retraining process, which is a European requirement for health professionals from outside Europe.

Once in the job, they are often left to their own devices and are regularly faced with prejudice and discrimination by patients and colleagues, the report said.

To solve these problems, the commission said the local authorities, educational institutions and the care sector must encourage asylum seekers and refugees who want to work in care as much as possible.

In particular, foreign qualifications should be assessed more quickly and healthcare institutions must focus on a safe working environment, for instance by introducing interpreters and culture mediators where necessary.

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