Disenchanted UK doctors seek jobs in Australia

30 July 2012 | UK/Ireland GPs | 5 minutes read

Disenchanted UK doctors seek jobs in Australia

The mounting pressures on doctors in the UK are causing many to lose heart and look for GP jobs abroad in places such as Australia.   This trend is not surprising considering the threats UK GPs face in both their professional and personal lives.

Austerity measures, excessive cuts in resources, the controversial health reforms being introduced by the coalition government, loss of autonomy for the GP, and failures on the part of the very trusts responsible for delivering health services are all contributing to a demoralized and dispirited GP workforce in the UK.  The NHS is groaning under the weight and the system is failing.  As one observer commented, “How can you match the inexhaustible demands of patients with the finite resources in the GP surgery?”  Frequently, GP practices face the impossible decision as to whether to reduce the level of service or bear the cost themselves for delivering the service.

As if this were not enough, beleaguered UK GPs now face the prospect of pension cuts and a later retirement age.  Last month doctors expressed their disapproval of the UK government’s pension reforms by taking industrial action – this is the first time they have taken action in almost forty years.  Further action has not been ruled out.  UK GPs are not happy about the impact these reforms will have on their future financial well being and it is clear to see why they are disenchanted and seeking GP jobs abroad.

But why are they seeking GP jobs in Australia?

The principle driver for this trend is the fact that Australia has a shortage of GP’s and therefore an abundance of GP jobs. The shortage is so widespread that the government has designated specific areas where the shortages are most marked, known as District Workforce Shortage (DWS) areas, and has implemented policies to encourage doctors from the UK to apply for GP jobs in these areas.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recognises the qualifications of a fully trained UK GP (their qualifications are considered comparable to the qualifications of an Australian GP) and will readily register them to practice in Australia. Qualified doctors do not need to sit further exams or undergo periods of supervision.  Whilst the process of vetting and registering can be a little tedious, the UK GP with MRCGP will get registration to take up a GP job in Australia.

UK GPs who have already made the move view the health system in Australia as a breath of fresh air!  The government funded Medicare covers every Australian resident for basic medical cover, and those who can afford it, pay additionally for greater choice and control over their treatment.  The beauty of this for the GP is that he too has choices.  He can choose to take a job where he sees patients for a shorter more basic consult or a longer consult, but whichever he chooses, he will be equally well rewarded.  This is music to the ears of the NHS GP who can be under pressure to see 40 to 50 patients a day. Essentially, the Australian GP is in control of his working life and this is enormously liberating for GPs coming from the UK.

Australians enjoy a wonderful lifestyle – there is so much to do other than work!  In most GP jobs, the doctor is encouraged to set a healthy work/life balance, and the health system is flexible enough to allow doctors the freedom to choose how much they want to work and in many cases, when they want to work.  This also means that a doctor can choose to work hard and earn more if he chooses.

The Australian economy is bucking the global trend of gloom and doom.   On the back of its mineral and mining industries, Australia has become a wealthy country with a high standard of living and a bright future.  The country is beautiful and varied, and offers a huge choice of lifestyles and leisure pursuits:  sophisticated urban living; idyllic country – perhaps in one of the many wine growing districts; skiing in the Snowy Mountains; tropical rainforests and hideaway islands; some of the best surf beaches in the world; and adventure in the red interior, to name a few.  The Australians are warm, friendly, and refreshingly open and uncomplicated.

It is little wonder then that UK GPs struggling with a health system not fit for purpose and facing swinging cuts in their pensions will be looking elsewhere, and given how much Australia has going for it, it is not surprising that it has become their first choice destination when looking for GP jobs abroad.

The differences between the UK and Australia, for GPs

Click here to read more about the differences between the NHS and Medicare from the perspective of general practitioners. We have also posted information here regarding “3 Important Differences Between Working as GP in Australia and in the UK“.

How to apply for GP jobs in Australia as a UK or Irish citizen

If you are interesting in looking at some of our current vacancies, we have posted some current GP jobs in MelbourneSydneyPerth, and Brisbane.

If you’re interested in potentially moving to Australia as a GP, or want just to have a general chat about whether it’s right for you, please feel free to call Martina Stanley on +61 403 444 764, or email her atmartina.stanley@alecto.com.au.

You can also fill out the form below. We never publish doctors’ comments, and you may be assured of the strictest confidence.

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