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I should have—Regrets of Filipino UK Nurses

We met nurses with varying range of experience and from different sectors who have shared their stories with us. They shared their views including their frustrations whilst living in the UK that they have had over the years. Here is a list of their I should haves…

"I should have…. joined the union right from the start of employment here in the UK."

Jun* was involved in a case where a patient made a false claim. He felt very stressed and did not know what to do. He just got his pin early this year and fears that he may lose it. Joe has not registered himself to any of the unions. Sayang kasi ang £15/month. And ended up seeking legal consult which costs him more. Had he registered himself with one of the unions, a union representative would have been there to represent him during important meetings and the union may be able to provide legal advise when required.

RCN, Unite and Unison are just 3 of the popular unions that nurses can affiliate themselves with. They provide access to workplace representation and they also provide development support. It is highly recommended for nurses, including students and support workers to register to any of these unions or professional bodies. And so new Filipino nurses in the UK should consider joining a union as soon as they start their employment here in the UK.

Watch this related video: Do I need to join a union?

"I should have… saved for my visa fees."

Grace* has been here in the UK for 3 years now. Looking back, she said to us, “If only I spent less and saved more—I would be in a better position to pay for my visa renewal fee and ILR. I am incredibly surprised that I need to pay for these fees and how costly it is to renew my visa and my family’s visa as well. Ang mahal pala! I had to take a loan to pay for our visas.” Although most companies pay for the initial cost of visas for Filipino nurses, the renewal of these visas are usually paid by the nurses themselves. Aside from the renewal of visas, nurses can also be eligible for indefinite leave to remain normally after 5 years and for British citizenship after their 6th year—all of which would incur costs.

"I should have… invested my money to buy a property in the UK."

Maria* has been in the country for more than 15 years now. Instead of investing a property in the UK, she has been investing her money buying a condominium unit in the Philippines. She now regrets this decision. “I thought it would be a good investment especially since I’m planning to go back and forth in the Philippines. For the past 15 years, I have been renting, I now realise that I should have invested here in the UK instead. Purchasing a property in the UK is not too difficult as long as you have the deposit money and monthly amortisations, or mortgage fee can be cheaper than my rental fee now. May mga 4-5 years pa lang dito pero may sarili ng property

Where to invest properties can be a good topic of debate. Some would opt to invest a property in the Philippines as they see it as the best place for them to retire whereas others find it more practical to invest in the UK especially considering that they will stay most of their years in this country.

Watch these related videos:

"I should have… learned how to drive."

Anna*, a Filipino Nurse based in the outskirts of London, said that she should have learned how to drive earlier. She has been in the UK for 10 years now, working in the NHS. She thought that driving is not a necessity as she only lives few blocks from the hospital. It was only now that she realised how important driving is here in the UK. It has opened a lot of opportunities for her, especially for agency nursing. She realised that she is not restricted on places where she can go. It has opened a different world for her. “If only I was driving back then, mas mayaman na ko!”

Although UK has good modes of transportation, it is still advantageous to be able to drive. Aside from job opportunities, exploring places within the country can also be a lot cheaper and more convenient.

Watch this related video: Driving in the UK

"I should have… taken up courses whilst I was in the NHS."

Aaron*, a Band 5 nurse, regrets not taking the course offered to him on his first few years with the NHS. “I thought these courses would be a hassle and the on-the-job training/experience are more beneficial. Mag Bank na lang ako. But I was wrong- I tried applying for Band 6 roles and was ruled out as I have not taken the required courses. Now I have told my manager of my interest and I am lined up to take up these courses. If only I said yes back then, I could have moved up to Band 6.”

The NHS provides developmental opportunities for its staff. This includes, statutory trainings, study days, conferences and even courses. This allows NHS staff to enhance their career and opens possibilities of either moving vertically or laterally in their profession.

These are just few of the “I should haves” of Filipino Nurses here in the UK. Regrets they may be, we hope lessons can be learned from their shared experience.

*Names of nurses have been changed.


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