Every year nearly 6,500 healthcare workers from the Philippines move overseas to pursue new job opportunities. The UK is one of the most popular countries for Filipino nurses to move to, with over 22,000 employed in the UK today.
Whether you are searching for a better position in the healthcare system or just a new environment to work in, there is plenty to know before you start applying to nurse job vacancies in the UK.
In this article we’ll mainly be focussing on Filipino nurses but much of the below advice applies to nurses from other countries looking to start anew in the UK.
Below you’ll learn about:
- Finding a nursing job in the UK
- UK nursing agencies in the Philippines
- NHS eligibility for Filipino nurses
- Cost and documentation
- Sending money home
Finding a nursing job in the UK
You may be eligible to work as a nurse in the UK. If you are a qualified nurse in your country, whether that’s the Philippines or any other country, you may be able to start working in the UK quite soon.
In years gone by you would have required at least two years of experience as an overseas healthcare professional before you could start working for the National Health Service (NHS) as an immigrant. However, you may be able to begin working for the NHS as soon as you receive your official nursing licence.
If you are from the Philippines before you even think about applying to the NHS and becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) you need to join a nursing agency.
UK nursing agencies in the Philippines
It is common for the NHS to use healthcare and nursing agencies in the Philippines to acquire new nurses. The pool of talent and experience in countries like the Philippines is vast and it makes many of the nurses suitable for work in the NHS.
If you are a nurse in the Philippines looking to move to the UK and continue in your profession, joining an agency is your best option. When you join a reputable nursing agency your application to the NHS is more likely to be approved because it will have already been evaluated by a trusted partner.
Today, there are hundreds of nursing agencies so it can be difficult to know which one to choose. We’d recommend asking around your own network of nursing colleagues before doing some online research to make sure you find a suitable agency. Some of the more popular nursing agencies include:
You can also make accounts on platforms like Linkedin to check the credibility of each agency, understand which agencies are leading the industry with innovative ideas and get an idea about which agency is suitable for you.
NHS eligibility for Filipino nurses
When you register with an agency you’ve taken the first step. The next steps will involve passing certain tests that will determine whether you are eligible and capable of working in the NHS.
The two main criteria to meet are:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Computer-Based Testing (CBT) exam
The IELTS is a structured exam designed to test your English language skills. The exam is usually focussed on grammar and vocabulary. On the other hand, the CBT is a test of your medical knowledge. If you are an experienced nurse from the Philippines or anywhere in the world, the CBT should not be too daunting. Nevertheless, for both the IELTS or CBT it is a good idea to understand your level of competency before taking the tests. You can do this online with mock exams and tutorials.
Once you have completed and passed both exams your results will be submitted to your agency. If a hospital has hired you through an agency they will then apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) on your behalf. Then, if you are based in the Philippines, when you have secured your COS, you must apply for the Health and Care worker visa at a VFS centre.
The final stage is the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). This third test takes place in the UK therefore you’ll already need to have had your visa approved. The OSCE is a test of your basic nursing skills and will hopefully not be too troubling for an experienced nurse.
Costs and Documentation
Whether you choose to pursue a nursing job in Manchester, Cornwall, London, or Cardiff, there is quite a lot to consider regarding costs, documentation and support. Let’s take a look at the initial costs:
- The CBT exam - 7,800 PHP (£118)
- The IELTS exam - 14,000 PHP (£212)
- The OSCE - 53,000 PHP (£804)
- Various flight and accommodation costs involved with relocation
- Health and Care worker visa - 15,700 PHP (£238) for 3 years
- A Tuberculosis Test, commonly costs around 3,500 PHP (£53)
- Proof of available funds in your bank account necessary to support yourself - At least 86,000 PHP (£1,305)
As you can see, relocating to the UK is not cheap. There are a number of costs to take into account and becoming a nurse in the UK will require some detailed planning. Nevertheless, as of 2022 nationality data from the House of Commons showed that people from the Philippines make up the third largest group of NHS staff in the UK behind only Indian and British. So it's definitely achievable for you too!
If you are a Filipino nurse thinking about moving to the UK, you can receive additional support from the Filipino Nurses Association UK (FNAUK). This association, founded during the pandemic, has become a vital network for Filipino nurses in the NHS and private healthcare sectors. By joining the Filipino Nurses Association UK you will also get notifications about Pinay events and news.
Send money home with Small World
Whether or not you choose to become a overseas nurse in the UK you may want to send money home to your family or friends. This is where Small World can help.
Small World is an international money transfer service enabling millions of people to transfer funds to their loved ones around the world every day. We offer a variety of secure, fast and simple transfer services including cash card reload, mobile wallet, bank deposit, cash pickup, home delivery, and mobile top-up.
Your first digital transaction is always free of transfer fees!