Punch, Saharareports Run Misleading Statistic About Figures Of Nigeria Doctors Migrating To UK


LAGOS DECEMBER  2ND (NEWSRANGERS)-Economic hardship has forced thousands of Nigerians to migrate in recent years, leading to a brain drain in key sectors. Local media reported that some 143,000 Nigerian doctors and “others” moved to the UK in the year leading up to September 2023. But the claim is misleading: official statistics reveal only 26,715 Nigerians were among the 143,990 healthcare workers who were given visas to enter Britain in the 12-month period.

“UK Moves To Close Temporary Visa Schemes As Over 143,000 Nigerian Doctors, Others Migrate In Nine Months,” reads the headline of an article published on the website of Nigerian news outlet Sahara Reporters on November 25, 2023.

It shared links to the story on its social media accounts including on X, formerly Twitter, and Facebook.

Another news outlet, Punch, ran a report with a similar headline on its website and social media.


Both publications are popular and have millions of online followers.

Nigeria’s erratic academic calendar characterised by frequent and protracted university strikes, economic woes and rising insecurity has forced thousands of young people, many of them healthcare workers, to leave the country in recent years (archived here).

The exodus, especially to the UK and the United States (archived here), saw the World Health Organization place the country on its red list to discourage other nations from recruiting in Nigeria (archived here).

UK’s rising net migration

Britain’s record net migration is a hot topic ahead of the general election scheduled for 2024 (archived here).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said net migration — the difference between the number of people arriving in Britain and those leaving — was 745,000 in 2022, higher than previously thought.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the numbers “too high” and said he wanted them reversed.

The government has already placed restrictions on visa applications for dependents of students and has increased the costs of different categories of visa applications. The health surcharge is also expected to increase by 66 percent in January 2024 (archived here).

However, the claim that 143,000 Nigerian doctors fled to the UK in one year is misleading.

What the stats say

The media reports were based on a statement (archived here) published on the Home Office website on November 23, 2023.

The statistics show that the UK granted 143,990 “Skilled Worker – Health and Care” visas between September 2022 and September 2023. The number rose from 61,274 recorded the previous year.

A screenshot shows the distribution of visas for selected health and care jobs, taken on November 27, 2023

The surge in this number was attributed to the “temporary changes to the health-and-care visa” in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic (archived here). The changes made social care workers, care assistants, and home care workers eligible for one-year visas.

Initially introduced in August 2020, the visa facilitates the recruitment of medical professionals for the National Health Service, its suppliers, or adult social care in the UK. It also includes a 50-percent visa fee reduction, an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge, and expedited approval.

Figures published by the Home Office show that only 26,715 Nigerians were given these visas between September 2022 and September 2023. Of that number, 17,798 were for care workers and home carers.



Another 9,116 visas were issued to “medical practitioners”, like doctors from different countries, during the same period.

Nigeria’s medical brain drain

About 5,000 doctors (archived here) left Nigeria between 2015 and 2021, according to development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), an Abuja-based not-for-profit organisation.

Local media reported that the number has since spiked as economic hardship and poor funding bite harder (archived here).

The rampant brain drain prompted a member of the country’s House of Representatives Ganiyu Johnson to propose a mandatory five-year work bond compelling Nigerian-trained doctors and dentists to remain in the country and work before receiving licences (archived here).

The bill stirred up controversy and failed to pass before the tenure of the national assembly lapsed in May.


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Posted by on Dec 2 2023. Filed under Health, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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