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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Drive for frontline workers shows UAE community spirit

Campaign to persuade former staff back to UK proves skilled paramedics are here to stay

London Ambulance service has launched a recruitment drive to attract workers back from the UAE. Jack Taylor/Getty Images
London Ambulance service has launched a recruitment drive to attract workers back from the UAE. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

For several years, ambulance services across the UK have been forced to advertise overseas for skilled paramedics because of a shortage of potential recruits at home. In an effort to fill approximately 1,000 positions, highly trained people have been hired from as far afield as Poland and Australia. However, the latest recruitment campaign by the London Ambulance Service – where the greatest number of vacancies exist – is subtly different. Instead of targeting fresh talent from overseas, a series of ads have been placed across the UAE urging former National Health Service staff living and working here to return to the UK.

The emotive language used appeals to a sense of vocation that drives many of these individuals: “Be here for everyone who needs you. Help more people than you ever have before.” Persuasive though these words might be, they also speak to the overstretched budgets, punishing response targets and gruelling 15-hour shifts that have brought about a steep rise in stress-related illness among UK paramedics in recent years. The NHS was established 70 years ago to provide free healthcare for all at the point of access, but is now unable to cope with patient demand. It is not surprising that many frontline service workers have decided to look for employment elsewhere.

The fact the UK is now advertising in this way upends the widely accepted narrative of global hubs such as the UAE being on a continual mission to import skilled, yet largely transient workforces from the West. The reality is that many people from all over the world and a variety of professions have chosen to make this country their home. Paramedics, like others in public service, are part of the community and society of the UAE. Having trained in an organisation founded on the principle of equality for all, there is a unique symmetry in these frontline workers now utilising their skills for good in a multinational country. There will always be a demand for skilled medics and if this improves the quality of service provided and increases competition for the best talent, that can only be a good thing for anyone in need of healthcare.