Why UK GPs are applying for GP jobs in Australia.
If it seems as though more and more of the UK’s doctors are leaving the NHS for GP jobs in Australia, well, that’s because it’s true. According to Pulse Magazine, the number of GPs applying for certificates so they can work abroad has almost doubled since 2008. In fact, certain regions of NHS England ran an advert aiming to persuade British GPs in Australia to return home.
But why are so many British doctors taking GP jobs in Australia? The reasons are many and varied, but one factor is the salary. GPs in the UK might expect an average salary of £70,000. The Australian system is more complex, as earnings are worked out as a percentage of a practice’s proceeds – but GPs in Australia could hope for an average of £150-200k per year.
Yet the financial differences alone are unlikely to make doctors relocate to the other side of the world; a number of the factors relate directly to the expected workload, and the red tape surrounding this. Whilst the Australian GP system is based on a 40 hour week, in the UK GPs are nominally expected to do 40 hours and more with regular 12-hour days not unheard of. Not only is there the out-of-hours work, there’s also the additional paperwork on top of the overrunning surgery times, due to the increasing number of patients. A recent survey found that UK GPs spend an average of 87 minutes each day on work-based paperwork, compared to just 51 minutes for those in GP jobs in Australia. Similarly Australian GPs spent about a third of the time their UK counterparts do on repeat prescriptions (11 minutes to the UK’s 30).
Conversely, the average appointment time is six minutes longer ‘Down Under’ – meaning there are fewer patients and more time in which to deal with them. Dr Nathalie Departe, a British GP working in Australia, says “here I found I was not penalised if I spent time with a complex patient to sort out their needs.” Another Australian-based Brit, Dr Mark McCartney, shares this view. He says “In the UK we work in an environment of running harder and faster to meet demands – without the resources.”
Many GPs in the UK are at risk of burning out, and the contentious changes to the NHS that continue to be implemented by Jeremy Hunt are only adding to their desire for GP jobs in Australia. As Dr Rob Galloway said, “Jeremy Hunt is the best recruitment consultant for the Australian health services”. With its superb climate and enviable way of life, it’s not difficult to see why Australian GP jobs are appealing to British doctors.
Prospect Health is a medical recruitment company, and partner of choice to a number of Australia’s finest healthcare facilities.