In a groundbreaking move, Filipino-British nurse May Parsons, globally recognized for administering the world’s inaugural COVID-19 vaccine, has founded a charity aimed at bolstering the careers of nurses trained in the Philippines.
The May Parsons Foundation is set to revolutionize the way Filipino-trained nurses integrate into the UK healthcare system, putting their valuable skills to proper use while infusing quality-trained nurses into Philippine healthcare.
Recognizing a Gap in the System
According to a detailed August 2023 report by Nursing Times, May Parsons, the Associate Chief Nurse at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, expressed deep concerns about the UK “wasting the potential of qualified nursing staff” from the Philippines.
“There’s what we’re looking at,” Parsons revealed. “They’re qualified nurses, but they don’t have a pathway to get onto the register like their partner did from the Philippines. Their only pathway is to totally retrain. We’re not utilizing the people we have and not maximizing their potential.”
The May Parsons Foundation’s Dual Approach
Parsons, a recipient of the George Cross Award from Queen Elizabeth II in honor of her courage and dedication to health service, further highlighted the charity’s dual focus. On the UK front, the foundation aims to help Filipino-trained nurses bypass the existing barriers and practice as registered professionals. Concurrently, the other arm of the foundation will operate in the Philippines, providing funding for nurse training and education.
Taking the First Step to Address Systemic Issues
Parsons noted that, although a pathway exists for nurses recruited to the UK, those who arrive as dependents of other professionals often find themselves stuck in non-registered roles like healthcare assistants. The foundation aims to rectify this by ensuring a more streamlined approach.
“They might be a qualified nurse in the Philippines, but not in the UK. There are some who work as healthcare assistants or who work in completely different industries,” Parsons told the Nursing Times.
In the Philippines, Parsons observed that the country was facing nurse recruitment difficulties partly owing to lack of access to professional education.
“I want it to offer help with paying for certification, continued professional development (CPD), English exams, NMC registrations,” the University of Santo Tomas alumna shared with Nursing Times. “There is a growing demand [in the Philippines] for nurses and not enough people are signing up.”
A new charity foundation has been set up by May Parsons to help Filipinos train as nurses for both the Philippines and the United Kingdom healthcare systems @NHSuk @NursingTimes https://t.co/GPeMpBkqIm
— GoodNewsPilipinas.com (@GoodNewsPinas_) September 6, 2023
A Personal Message from May Parsons
May Parsons, in a message from the foundation’s website, radiated enthusiasm and resolve: “I am an astoundingly proud Filipino-British nurse based in the UK. The main aim of this charity is to uplift an individual’s life trajectory one nurse at a time. I hope you join me in this journey!”
A Future Forward
The formal launch of the foundation is anticipated later this year. Parsons is already working closely with senior NHS figures and stakeholders in the Philippines to garner support. This comes on the heels of recent changes to the UK’s nursing regulations, which have eased the English language requirements for internationally educated nurses, marking a significant milestone for the global nursing community.
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