Job scam: Healthcare groups, clinics offer jobs to Kerala nurses stranded in UAE
The agents lured them with promises of high salaries and other perks.
Touched by the plight of hundreds of nurses who are stranded in the UAE after being duped by fraudulent recruitment agents, scores of private clinics and heads of healthcare groups, have come forward to assist them with jobs.
After a report was published in Khaleej Times on Tuesday, May 18, several heads of healthcare groups and private clinics have reached out to social groups and offered to open job vacancies for nurses in their institutions. It is said several hundred nurses are stranded in various Emirates across the UAE after falling victim to fake job offers posted by recruitment agents in Kerala.
The agents lured them with promises of high salaries and other perks, without informing them about proper licensing requirements which are mandatorily required by the government of UAE.
Heads of recruitment agencies and healthcare groups have offered them positions in clinics and hospitals if they can prove eligibility. Many have also said they would be happy to assist the nurses with licensing procedures as many arrived in the UAE without the proper documentation work to work as nurses.
Several nurses have already begun getting interview calls as well. Reena Rajan, a stranded Kerala nurse residing in Fujairah, said, "I got a call from one major hospital group and a polyclinic in UAE. They have asked me to go for an interview on Thursday. I see this as an opportunity and hope things work out for us going forward." Another nurse who wished to remain unnamed, said, "I had an interview on Wednesday, where I was offered a job as a nursing assistant. I don't have the license to work as a registered nurse and I was unaware that it is mandatory here in the UAE. I've been stuck here since March. I am really hoping matters improve after this."
To assist stranded nurses, the Consulate General of India in Dubai said they are in touch with various community associations based in the UAE to identify and extend help to any Indian national who approaches their specific request as well. "So far, the Consulate has not received any requests to repatriate Indian nurses," stated a statement from the mission.
On-going scam by recruitment agents
Dr Sanjay Paithankar, the managing director of Right Health, one of the heads of the healthcare groups who have come forward to assist the stranded nurses, said, "We began noticing this trend of recruitment agents coming in with nurses looking for jobs in February- March. We had even interviewed many of them and were willing to offer them assistant to nurses or allied jobs as they did not have licenses."
He explained, "We informed the nurses that in the interim period, they can work on their licensing exams and secure the full-time positions." However, while many of the nurses were willing to work the temporary allied jobs, the agents demanded that 50 per cent of the nurse's salaries should be given to the agents as commission. "Our group refused to work with them after such demands were made."
Dr Paithankar also said the demand for nurses in the UAE rose last year with the coming up on field hospitals and vaccination centres. "There was a time when India sent several medical professionals to the UAE to support the Covid-19 crisis. After the requirement was completed, these nurses went back well," he said. In the meanwhile, job agents bought nurses from India in batches and began this unscrupulous business.
Right Health is still willing to give nurses allied jobs such as assistants and patient receptionists. "We want the nurses to know they are not alone and we are here to support them. Many of these women have paid huge amounts to come here. We are willing to recruit them, help them with their licenses, and pay them for the interim jobs till they stabilize," he added.
Apart from Right Health, several leading healthcare groups and heads of private clinics have also reached out to Khaleej Times expressing their desire to help the nurses. Many are reaching out to social groups which are supporting the nurses and have begun collecting CVs of those in need.
'Licensing is the biggest challenge'
Kiran Raveendran, the social worker who has been assisting several stranded nurses find footing in the UAE, said, "I have been receiving calls from several healthcare groups since morning. One of the biggest challenges they are facing at the moment is that they are not licensed and the second one is that they are scattered all over the UAE." With regards to the licensing issue, the nurses were unaware that the government of UAE requires a medical license that would allow them to legally work as nurses in medical facilities. "They were told they just need to pack their bags and come with their passports, nothing else," said Raveendran.
In the UAE, healthcare professionals need a license to pursue their careers. This healthcare practice licence in Dubai is issued by the Health Regulation Department (HRD) of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Professionals in the healthcare industry must apply for a DHA license and pass the skill test and assessments to obtain one, explained heads of human resource departments at healthcare organisations.
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