Following the success of Global Healthcare Issues we’re pleased to bring you the fourth installment in our new series - Global Healthcare Sectors.
In this exclusive series we will guide you through the structure behind the healthcare sectors we most frequently deal with. We’ll look at the private and public sectors, what positions are especially in demand, the funding models, and how to go about successfully securing a move.
In part four we’ll look at one of the world’s most popular locations with Western expats. A country that attracts thousands of people each year, many from the UK - Australia.
Attracted by warm weather, an impressive, relaxed standard of living and great work/life balance, it’s not hard to see why so many people see Australia as the perfect location to move to from the struggling NHS.
Where am I likely to work?
Australia is a vast country, with a relatively small population (23m). This means that there are many rural roles which need filling. Often you will have to work in a DWS area when you first move ‘down under’ - especially if you are a GP - DWS stands for District of Workforce Shortage and is a part of the country where it is more difficult to find staff. In order to receive your ‘Medicare’ billing number overseas doctors will often be expected to start their career in Australia working within these areas.
Medicare is Australia’s equivalent of the National Health Service and so, to work as a state GP in the country, you need a billing number.
After ten years working in Australia you’ll be allowed to move throughout it and practice where you wish, but you can be restricted up until that decade benchmark. This is not the case for everyone, occasionally opportunities can arise for recent arrivals in other areas where there isn’t a workforce shortage - but it is something to be aware of.
Don’t fear that DWS areas will see you living in a remote village in the middle of the Outback however. Many of these are in the suburbs of the state capitals, with most of the rest being in large towns slightly further afield.
Don’t be disappointed therefore if the majority of jobs which are available are in fairly rural locations, as these put you on the road to working in the bigger cities and major hospitals. Some medics enjoy working in less hectic, quiet surroundings, whilst for others the hustle and bustle of city life is essential.
To answer the question therefore you’ll likely start off in a more rural location, before working your way into the larger cities - if that’s what you are aiming for.
What Sector will I be working in?
Either. Australia’s public and private sectors are both strong, and both can boast an equally high standard of care. There are currently 753 public hospitals, clinics and psychiatric facilities, and 573 private sector locations providing health care.
It is not uncommon for medics to move to the private sector once they have established themselves in public jobs, however it simply depends on the availability of suitable roles at the time.
How Generous is Healthcare Spending?
The public system is funded by a combination of the government - who dedicate 9.4% of the country's total GDP to funding it (a figure fractionally greater than that of the UK) - and the people of the country, who contribute through a 2% levy known as ‘Medisave’ on their income.
This combination of funding ensures that the publically funded healthcare system in Australia is financially secure. Incentives are also in place to encourage the use of the private system in order to ensure that the state system does not find itself overrun and underfunded.
Perhaps the most notable of these incentives is the Private Health Insurance Rebate. Under this scheme ‘Medicare’ makes a contribution towards your healthcare costs based on your earnings and age. The percentage increases as you get older, and decreases as you earn more ensuring that it helps out those who are most in need.
PHIB allows the healthcare system to focus more on the quality of care it provides as opposed to the quantity of patients who pass through the doors. It ensures that, unlike the NHS, the state system is not overworked and creates a far less stressful working environment for medics.
Salaries in Australia reflect this, a GP can expect to earn between $150,000AUD and $400,000AUD (between £88,556 and £234,150). This figure can vary depending on your experience, the hospital you are working in and the overtime that you complete.
Average consultant wages start at around $175,000AUD and increase almost towards $500,000AUD (£103,000 to £293,000).
What Will I Need?
For a consultant's job within the country employers will look for a CCT (or equivalent) along with Western qualifications and board accreditation. MRCPUK, Canadian, French and American are the most sought after, however certification from other, similar, countries may also be accepted.
As well as this most employers will look for upwards of five years experience (although this can be flexible), and will require candidates to be fluent in English.
If you possess these qualifications, skills and have an engaging, positive and energetic attitude towards your employment - along with a well written CV - then the possibility of taking your career ‘down under’ could be a very realistic one indeed.
In order to gain employment in Australia as a GP you require to be registered with the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP). This is a process that can take a great deal of time due to its complexity, however that’s where we are here to help.
The system will classify all practitioners as category 1 or category 2. Category 1 is for practitioners who do not need an examination or further training to prove their medical competence. For British trained individuals this means that if you have both your MRCGP and CCT certificate then you should find yourself in category 1. Doctors with these qualifications will all be individually assessed, but should pass easily.
Other qualifications, such as those from countries outwith the West, are likely to see you fall into category 2. Don’t let this end your Australian dream however, it simply means that you will require additional training before being granted RACGP registration.
The immigration process is more stringent than many other countries, but assuming that you have the qualifications and a job offer than gaining a visa shouldn’t be overly troublesome. Often prospective employers will sort out the admin side of the move and so don’t let it be a worry.
Who is Especially in Demand?
General Practitioners have been hugely in demand right throughout Australia for quite a few years now, and there are still plenty of openings for GPs looking at moving to the country.
As well as this mental health rates have risen greatly in recent times, meaning that there is a growing need for psychiatrists - especially child and adolescent psychiatrists as a result of the country’s high young population, and worryingly high rates of mental illness amongst this demographic.