An upcoming BBC Panorama television programme called Panorama – 7 days in A&E: Condition Critical? highlights the problem of recruitment and retention in A&E departments in UK hospitals. The College of Emergency Medicine in the UK noted that the UK could be facing a shortfall of up to 375 registrars in emergency departments. It also notes that increasing numbers of UK Doctors are looking elsewhere for work, namely Australia. According to the Australian College of Emergency Medicine, since 2008, there has been a 60% rise in UK medical graduates working in A&E departments in Australia. John Mason International has also noted an increase in the number of Doctors moving to Australia in over the last few years. So why are British Doctors deciding that Australia offers a better life?
A report in The Guardian from December 2013 noted that ‘Doctors are much better supported [in Australia’ as compared to the UK. A 43 hour week is guaranteed with five hours set aside for teaching. Dr Michael Sheridan from Geelong Hospital in Victoria researched this and found that 57% of registrars working in emergency hospitals in Victoria, had been educated from a non-Australian university. Dr Sheridan also noted in his article the increased number of colleagues on shifts, therefore higher staffing levels and ultimately a less pressurised working environment is offered in Australian hospitals.
A recent BBC article suggests that A&E doctors are moving Down Under for a better lifestyle and for a working environment with less pressure and targets.
Many Doctors may move out to Australia for a short period e.g. 6 months – 2 years and then return to the UK, according to Dr Vivak Shah from Weedon Dental Surgery, but increasingly some are deciding to stay and to complete their training in Australia or are planning to live there on a more long-term basis.
Benefits of working in Australia as a Doctor on the Australian Government’s Department of Health Doctor Connect website are noted as:
- High standard of living and plentiful natural and physical resources
- Further education opportunities
- Diversity of places to work including Flying Doctor services
- A multicultural society which welcomes migrants
- A well regarded healthcare system
Australia’s Healthcare system does seem to be quite a big pull factor for Doctors in the UK wanting a new adventure and at the same time, a good working environment. The World Health Organisation commented on the high quality of the healthcare system in the country in 2003:
The Australian health system is world-class in both its effectiveness and efficiency; Australia consistently ranks in the best performing group of countries for healthy life expectancy and health expenditure per person.