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'A place that cares for you': BC government targets UK doctors with billboard campaign

The British Columbia government is attempting to poach doctors and nurses from the UK by bigging up the province’s health system on billboards in major cities.

One of the advertisements, showing a man wearing a mask and scrubs, features the tagline: “Care for others in a place that cares about you.”

Another, placed near a hospital in London, says: “Providing care for families should allow you to provide for yours.”

The billboards also feature a link to a BC government website, which promises high salaries, fast licensing for internationally trained staff and the “prioritizing” of “diversity, anti-racism and inclusion.”

It also advertises the province’s “high standard of living,” diverse population and “safe communities.”

Last November BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province was making progress with its $1-billion plan to improve staffing levels.

He boasted that the number of foreign-educated nurses in the province had doubled from 288 in 2022 to 578 in 2023.

The Health Ministry said "thousands" more international nurses are working toward getting registered and many will be getting clinical experience in 2024.

The province, Dix explained, needs to "dramatically" increase the number of family doctors and other healthcare professionals to keep up with expected population growth and close gaps in the system.

"We are targeting to add family doctors at a remarkable rate in BC to reduce the number of people unattached," he said.

<who> Photo credit: Ministry of Health/Flickr </who> Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

The province’s health system has been battered by a series of problems in recent years, many of them blamed on a lack of staff.

Those problems have included dozens of temporary emergency department closures due to a lack of medics.

In December, BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said BC’s health system is “virtually in collapse,” and called on the province to bring back the 2,500 workers who were fired for failing to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The BC government, however, told NowMedia that the vaccine mandate “is not linked to staffing shortages,” adding that BC has done “very well in recruitment relative to others.”

The UK’s health system, meanwhile, is similarly beleaguered, with tens of thousands of patients waiting more than 12 hours for emergency care in January.

<who> Photo credit: BC Government </who> A screenshot showing part of the website the BC government wants British health workers to visit.

Newly qualified doctors in the UK are currently on strike.

It’s the tenth time they have walked out of their jobs as part of their dispute over pay with the British government. They are demanding a 35 per cent pay rise.

NowMedia asked the British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, what it thought of the billboards, but has yet to receive a response.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, however, a representative from the British Medical Association said the ads are a “perfect illustration of a very real problem,” adding that “doctors are being lured away from [the UK] with the promise of better pay and conditions.”

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