International recruitment of health and social care personnel: code of practice - March 2023 (revised)

Revision of the Scottish code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel.


I am pleased to present to Scottish health and social care employers the revised Scottish Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health and Social Care Personnel.

We have all been humbled by the dedication and sacrifices made by health and care workers across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHS Scotland benefits enormously from the contribution made by healthcare staff from across the world who come to train and work here. But equally, we recognise how important it is to ensure that recruiting staff to our own health and social care services does not disadvantage those same services in lower income countries.

We place great importance on Scotland being a good global citizen. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Code of Practice is the universal ethical framework that links the international recruitment of health workers with the strengthening of health systems. By publishing a Code of Practice that aligns our own recruitment principles and practices with that framework, we are demonstrating Scotland's continuing commitment to ethical recruitment and protecting and supporting the health and care systems of lower income countries. We are not actively recruiting from those countries the WHO recognise as having the most pressing health and care workforce related challenges.

When we published the Scottish Code of Practice in February 2021, we committed to doing regular updates. Working with the UK Government in this revised edition you will see that we have responded to concerns that have arisen over the last year including:

Strengthening the best practice benchmarks to ensure fairness and consistency in employment contracts and set out principles on the use of repayment clauses in employment contracts.

Setting out the routes of escalation for concerns about exploitative recruitment or employment practices and breaches of the code.

Providing more clarity on how the code applies to different international recruitment models.

Introducing a knowledge test for recruiting organisations applying to be on the Ethical Recruiters List; and

Expanding the scenario examples.

In actively addressing emerging issues of concern we aim to ensure that we maintain the highest ethical standards in all international recruitment activity undertaken.

Humza Yousaf

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care



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