About 90 Indian nurses who were left stranded in the United Arab Emirates after their hopes of a new job turned out to be a bogus recruitment scam have been offered a lifeline after a hospital stepped forward with offers of employment.
Health worker Ambily MB, who is one among the many stranded in the UAE after falling victim to the con, is among those finally relieved that her plight, after three months of uncertainty has finally come to an end.
Ambily had worked in the medical and surgical ward of a hospital in India for seven years before she arrived in the UAE last March with high hopes. These hopes soon turned to dread as, along with many other nurses, Ambily, realized that she had fallen prey to a job scam.
VPS Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare groups in the UAE, has come to lend a helping hand to these nurses after learning about their hardships.
The group has been receiving job applications and inquiries from nurses for the last four weeks.
Sanjai Kumar, chief human resources officer at VPS Healthcare, said the group has selected eligible candidates through a special interview conducted recently.
“We have given special consideration to eligible healthcare workers who have been trapped for a long time and facing financial issues,” he said. “To date, 41 health workers who have completed the process have already joined the hospitals under VPS Healthcare.”
The healthcare workers who do not have a valid medical license will be joining as a patient aide or service assistant.
VPS Healthcare Chairman and Managing Director Dr Shamsheer Vayalil has instructed his team to provide all possible assistance to qualified trainee nurses to obtain licenses.
“We will be initiating and assisting them in processing DoH/DHA Licenses,” said Kumar. “In addition to those who had already joined us, 49 more will be joining our medical team upon issuance of an employment visa.”
“All the relevant expenses, including their RT-PCR test and BLS above the usual regulatory expenses, are being taken care of by VPS Healthcare as a special case.”
Meanwhile, health workers thanked VPS Healthcare for offering help during the crisis.
Ambily, a resident of Kottayam district in Kerala, said: “I was working as a registered nurse in a leading hospital in Kerala.”
“I came to the UAE with high hopes but was shocked when I found out about the scam. I have paid about 200,000 rupees ($2,756) to the recruitment agency.”
“They had not returned us a single penny. I cannot go back to India in empty hands as my family is struggling to pay back the money we arranged to pay the agent.”
“This job has come as a blessing to me. I am confident that I would clear the procedures to obtain the medical license. Also, I am happy to be back at work when our services are very much required for the community.”
Ambily, the mother of a seven-year-old child, came to the UAE along with her sister Asha MB hoping to find a solution to her family’s financial crisis. The recruitment company promised to pay $1,225 a month along with accommodation and food. VPS Healthcare has given a job to Asha also.
Asha said: “What happened was unbelievable, and the agents were not even willing to return our money. The recruiting company had made big promises in their social media ads.”
“They said we would be able to get work at the vaccination center immediately after the quarantine period, and the license was not an issue. They tricked all of us.”
“When asked 20 days later, they had nothing to say about the job. So, we applied to VPS Healthcare and other healthcare groups on our own.”
VPS Healthcare officials also warned healthcare workers to beware of job scams.
Rani Elsa Oommen, chief nursing officer at the group, said: “Candidates should verify the information related to the institution and apply only after confirming the authenticity of the advertisement.”
Last year, Dubai Police arrested a gang who conned 150 job seekers with tempting job opportunities and attractive salaries during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The gang would lure victims by posting fake job opportunities with attractive salaries, and then ask the victim for money for some alleged reasons such as recruitment fees, taxes or booking an interview appointment,” Brigadier Jamal Salem al-Jalaf, Director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation (CID) at Dubai Police, said at the time.