Following the success of Global Healthcare Issues, we’re pleased to bring you the eighth part of our new series - Global Healthcare Sectors.
Throughout these articles 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 the penultimate installment of our exclusive series we’ll look at one of the Gulf’s most sought after locations. A country that is renowned worldwide for its friendly population, stunning coastline and high tech healthcare infrastructure - Bahrain.
Bahrain is an increasingly popular location for Western medics, with the country’s liberal laws and typical island atmosphere making it a gentle introduction to the Gulf region. The country is small, with job openings often creating a fiercely competitive battle for the role. Our guide will help introduce you to the country therefore, whilst allowing you to assess how suitable and realistic a move could be.
Where am I likely to work?
Bahrain is a small country, just 765km², making it a similar size to Singapore, however with a far lower population. Whilst Singapore is home to 5.5m people, just 1.3 million reside in Bahrain - with more than 10% of them living in the capital, Manama.
Manama is located in the North of the country, and this is where the vast majority of developments are. In fact south of Sakhir there is very little other than desert and coastline, and so all the country’s 18 hospitals are located within easy reach of the capital.
All of the hospitals offer a high standard of care, and wherever you work you’ll be within close proximity of both Manama and the coastline!
What Sector will I be working in?
Bahrain has four public and 14 private hospitals, making it more likely that you’ll find an opportunity for employment in the private sector. As we always say though, it simply depends on what type of role you’re looking for, what your speciality is and the timing of your application. Patience can be the key behind a move to the country, and so be prepared to wait for the perfect job.
How Generous is Healthcare Spending?
Akin to the National Health Service the state system is free at the point of need for Bahraini nationals, unlike in Britain however these people only make up around 46% of the total population. This means that the healthcare system in the country is never stretched beyond its means.
Funding for the system is also generous, far more so than in most European locations. 5% of the country’s GDP goes towards the public system, whilst the large (and often wealthy) expat population fund the private sector through insurance contributions. This ensures that hospitals are not understaffed, and medics aren’t overworked allowing a healthy work/life balance to be achieved within an enjoyable environment.
The Bahraini Dinar is the world’s 2nd highest value currency, and at the time of writing (May 2017) 1 dinar is currently worth £2.04 or $2.65USD. As a result salary figures may appear far lower than in the UK at first glance. In the country consultants can expect to earn upwards of £84,000 a year (around 41,000BHD), whilst this figure can rise to almost £120,000 tax free in private hospitals depending on experience and your performance.
That isn’t all, most hospitals will include accommodation or an allowance to pay for this within their salary package. As well as this there is the benefit of up to 30 days paid leave, shorter working hours and study breaks for research or to attend seminars. Furthermore the hospital will cover the cost of flights to Bahrain and the return journey at the beginning and end of your contract.
Given the country's reputation as the middle east’s holiday retreat it comes as a surprise to a great deal of people that the cost of living is actually substantially lower than it is in the United Kingdom, and neighboring locations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
What Will I Need?
The job market in Bahrain can be extremely competitive, and so in order to gain employment within the country as a consultant, 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, equally as well regarded, countries may also be accepted.
As well as this most employers will look for more than five years of experience and will require candidates to be fluent in English. A knowledge (however limited) of Arabic or another relevant language (such as French or German) would also help your chances of gaining employment, though it is certainly not essential for all hospitals.
Medical directors across the Gulf prefer candidates who have worked in permanent roles, and so if you’ve worked lots of locums (however prestigious) securing employment may prove troublesome.
If you have these qualifications, a strong and well written CV, and an engaging and positive attitude to your employment, then the opportunity of relocating your career to Bahrain could be a very realistic one indeed.
Who is Especially in Demand?
As is unfortunately a problem right throughout the Gulf, obesity continues to plague the health of Bahrain’s population. Recent estimates suggest that as high as 66% of the country’s population can be classified as overweight, putting them at risk of various conditions, and increasing the demand for cardiologists, endocrinologists and baritricians.
Bahrain also has a higher than average rate of Multiple Sclerosis, and so there tends to be a number of openings in Neurology.
Whatever your specialty however there will be a role which suits you, often it can just be a matter of waiting for the right opportunity to come up at the right time.