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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

UK's NHS tries to poach back British paramedics from UAE

Health services in drive to convince expatriate paramedics to return to the UK

Bradley Jones, National Ambulance Operations Manager in the Northern Emirates and paramedic, Mowafaq Al Omoush, Team Leader and EMT with Jason Coyne, Operations Manager in Northern Emirates and paramedic.Courtesy National Ambulance
Bradley Jones, National Ambulance Operations Manager in the Northern Emirates and paramedic, Mowafaq Al Omoush, Team Leader and EMT with Jason Coyne, Operations Manager in Northern Emirates and paramedic.Courtesy National Ambulance

In its latest recruitment campaign, the London Ambulance Service is trying to encourage British paramedics living in the UAE to return to the UK.

The organisation has taken out several adverts, across various outlets in the UAE, with the objective of targeting UK-trained paramedics who moved to the Emirates for work.

The advert uses emotional language to tempt expatriates travelling home for Christmas to consider making a permanent return.

“Be here for everyone who needs you,” the advert reads. “Help more people than you have ever done before. When people need you the most, be here.”

The recruitment drive comes at a time when the UK’s National Health Service is facing its worst staffing crisis yet.

An NHS London Ambulance Service advert which appeared in an English-language newspaper in the UAE.
An NHS London Ambulance Service advert which appeared in an English-language newspaper in the UAE.

At the end of the first half of this year, the NHS had 107,743 unfilled posts, an increase of 9,268 from the three months before.

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service confirmed the organisation was targeting the UAE to tempt paramedics from the UK to repatriate.

“We started a recruitment drive in the UAE in September to harness the UK trained and talented paramedics who, having left the UK, may be thinking about whether the time is right to come home,” she said.

She said the starting annual salary for a Band 5 paramedic in the UK is Dh110,312 (£23,023) per annum basic, and a Band 6 paramedic is Dh134,440 (£28,050) per annum.

She said staff are offered an additional London weighting allowance, to help cope with the high cost of living in the British capital, as well as other benefits.

There have been no applications yet, although the ads were placed only a week ago, the spokeswoman said.

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The recruitment drive comes as little surprise to officials from the UAE’s National Ambulance service, which covers the Northern Emirates, including Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah.

“It is because a lot of paramedics in the UAE are expats, mostly from the UK, and they are looking to bring some of the staff back because their new experience can add value to London Ambulance Services system,” said Joe Coughlan, National Ambulance director of operations.

“We experience a lot of trauma here in the UAE in comparison with the UK, plus we get experience of working in a multicultural environment.”

He said it takes a certain mentality to work abroad as a medic and the London Ambulance Service wants medics with that experience and mindset.

Recruiting staff from other countries has been a long-running practice for the National Ambulance service, Mr Coughlan said.

“For the National Ambulance to deliver a high level of emergency medical service in the UAE, we have to recruit the best to meet our high standards,” he said. “Therefore, we look to every possible source for our recruits because, until recently, there were relatively few qualified paramedics available across the country.”

That high standard makes this region attractive for others trying to recruit, said Richard Quinlan, National Ambulance’s education manager.

“We invest a lot of time and training in all the medics from across the world who come here,” he said. “There is also a lot of trauma and specialty care that occurs in the pre-hospital setting while working in the UAE.”

He also said that medics with international experience are a sought-after group of individuals and worldwide the pool is shallow.

“All countries require highly qualified and proficient clinicians in the medical emergency service, and search all over the world using electronic and print media to get to the target audience,” he said.

When asked about how local starting salaries compare with the UK, a National Ambulance spokeswoman was not specific.

“We offer competitive packages compared with international markets.”