Visa & RACGP changes – are UK GPs still welcome in Australia?

RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) opened its new Specialist Recognition Program (SRP) in September amid rumours of a more draconian process, new rates and prompting fears that UK GPs may no longer be so welcome in Australia.  On closer examination, and following consultation with the RACGP, we are very happy to report that this new program differs very little from the old and, conversely, offers UK and Irish GPs greater opportunities to shine down under!

So, what has changed and what does it mean for UK GPs taking up jobs in Australia?

As in the past, GPs with MRCGP/MICGP get a relatively easy ride through this new application process. They will continue to be awarded Fellowship ad eundum gradum (FAEG) on the back of their UK specialist qualification, making them eligible for full specialist registration and enabling them to bill full Medicare rates on starting work.

The only real change is that there are two simple processes that occur after the GP has been working in Australia for a minimum of 6 months if they wish to maintain specialist registration and gain FRACGP:

  • A representative from the college will visit the practice to see the doctor in situ and make sure they are actually working in the clinic and fitting into Australia. There is no testing and no formal assessment.
  • The GP is also required to undertake a patient satisfaction survey with 40 patients. This is the identical survey that is used by accreditation bodies in Australia all the time and is a normal part of general practice quality control.

On completion of these two processes (called the Workplace Based Assessment), the GP will be awarded full fellowship with the college (FRACGP).

These changes reflect a shift in focus by the Australians: from a concentration on addressing the shortage of GPs, the focus is now on the quality of primary care, to foster best practice, and improve education and support for UK GPs entering the workforce.

The visas changes took place earlier this year but the eligibility criteria remain the same for UK GPs. GPs are still on the skilled shortage list; however, the cost of the new visa is higher – for the sponsoring practice and the GP.  it is still very easy for UK GPs and to get PR once they arrive in Australia and hold their specialist registration.

 

In summary…

  • Well trained UK GPs with MRCGP/MICGP by examination will notice little change and shouldn’t encounter any issues with the new process if they are working with an experienced recruiter
  • There is still a significant shortage of GPs in Australia and will be for the foreseeable future. In Sydney and Melbourne these shortages are limited to the outer suburbs.
  • The demand from the practices for UK GPs is as strong as ever – in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide it is probably the strongest it has been for a number of years.
  • The registration process and the visa may take longer to complete and cost a bit more. But this is why we are here to help you through it with no hassles.
  • The emphasis on ensuring a high-quality workforce gives UK GPs a chance to shine
  • The increased costs of both the RACGP process and the TSS visa, though substantial, will be quickly off-set by the higher income received once working in Australia. Working a typical load, you will earn these extra costs in just 3-4 days of work in Australia.

In a convoluted twist of high minded ideals and grubby politics, this tougher stance taken by the authorities may actually make it more promising for the UK GP.   While on the one hand appeasing an electorate keen to wean itself from reliance on foreigners, the Australian government will also be positively rubbing its hands with glee at the increased revenues from this stream of much needed GPs coming through immigration.   We believe UK GPs will be welcome in Australia for a long time to come!

For more detailed information about these changes and how it will affect you in your quest to work as a GP in Australia, please call Raelene on 07808 704050 or raelene@alecto.com.au