In 2021 former Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta secured employment opportunities for Kenyan health workers to fly abroad and work for the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom. As reported, the deal that centred on partnership in health cooperation was to see 5000 jobless medics secure lucrative appointment for an undisclosed period of time before returning to work in Kenya.
The agreement received mixed reactions from a section of social media users. While it was hailed as an alliance that would enable sharing of skills and expertise, critics argued that it amounted to a detrimental brain drain for Kenya.
Among Kenyan health workers that are expected to work in the UK are nurses who have failed to secure employment locally. However, there are hundreds of nurses who despite being employed are also burning the midnight oil in a bid to grasp greener pastures.
Registered nurses intending to work for the NHS are first required to prove their English language proficiency by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.
The current cost of taking this exam is approximately Ksh 30000 and one is gauged on the ability to write, speak, read and listen. A nurse is required to score an average of 7/10.
After passing IELTS exam, one starts applying for available vacancies but it is better to sit another exam, the NMC-CBT.
This stands for the Nursing and Midwifery Council- Computer Based Exam. There is a process for sitting this exam including the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) verification and paying some fees for Nursing and Midwifery Council application.
Before sitting the NMC-CBT, one must have a valid passport. The exam venue in Kenya is in JKUAT Towers, which is directly opposite Jamia Mosque in Nairobi CBD.
Salaries of UK Nurses
The NHS pays nurses on an hourly basis and the minimum for this is £12.7. On a weekly basis, one is expected to work for 37.5 hours (3 days of 12 hours shifts).This means one takes home £476.25 weekly and £1905 monthly. The total monthly salary is approximately Ksh 287 655.
But this is not the end of the payslip given one still has 4 more days in a week in which the NHS can guarantee you another job that is termed as bank shifts. A nurse working on bank shifts earns an average of £19.5 hourly and for two days this amount is £468 (19.5 ×12 ×2).
Converting this to Kenyan shillings, one pockets ksh 70,668 a week and Ksh 282,672 in a month. The total earnings therefore is ksh 287 655 + 282 672 = Ksh 570,327 per month.
As at July 2023, the basic pay from various employers was £ 24000 per annum. This translates to about Ksh 364000 per month. (1£= Ksh 182 (In July, 2023))
Even with these above figures, the Standard reported that Kenyan nurses who work in the UK earn between Kshs600,000 and upwards of kshs800,000.
Expenses – Being a developed country, life in the UK is quite expensive especially on accommodation. According to messages shared by Kenyannurse, a company that helps nurses secure jobs in the UK, rental charges for a two bedroom house in London are on average £850. Other expenses are as follows:-
- Water £50
- Gas and electricity £ 120
- Council tax £ 150
- Food £ 200
- Clothing £ 70
- Total expenses £ 1,440 (Ksh 217,440)
However, these expenses can be halved for those opting for shared accommodation.
Basing on the stated figures, a nurse could pocket a monthly net pay of ksh 570,327 – ksh 217,440 which is: Ksh 352,887.
Disclaimer: The quoted figures are used as an example for a nurse who does 2 days of bank shifts weekly. As explained, the expenses quoted can be halved for a nurse who shares accommodation with a colleague.
It is advisable for any nurse to do his/her due diligence before deciding to relocate to the UK as there have been reports of rise in cost of living which has led to diminished net earnings.
Moreover, you must have realized I didn’t quote commuting expenses; this is because the NHS caters for this expense but it is limited to only 5 miles.