Global Healthcare Sectors | New Zealand


Fraser Clarke

Following the success of Global Healthcare Issues we’re pleased to bring you the sixth installment in our exclusive new series - Global Healthcare Sectors.

Throughout this 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 this guide we’ll look at a location that combines rural beauty, with some of the world’s most sought after cities. New Zealand

The country may often be overlooked by expats considering a move ‘down under’ in favour of its near neighbour, Australia, however it has plenty to offer of its own. A world class healthcare sector, where staff are truly valued and treated as individuals, a relaxed lifestyle and plenty of family orientated activities make it ideal for someone looking to escape from the NHS

Where am I likely to work?

New Zealand is a relatively unique country in that it is made up of two islands. The North Island is home to more than 3.5 million people, as well as 86% of the country’s indigenous Māori population. It is also home to the capital city, Wellington, and the country’s largest city, Auckland.

Beneath it is the smaller South Island, where just over 1 million people reside. As a result jobs here are slightly rarer than they are in the North, however there are still a reasonable number available across all specialties.

In answer to the question therefore it’s more likely that you’ll be working in New Zealand’s North Island at first, often in a smaller rural hospital. This isn’t always the case, and there is no Australia-esque DWS situation, however more often than not medics have to work their way up into the major hospitals in the big cities.

What Sector will I be working in?

The healthcare system in New Zealand is a mixture of a public/private hybrid system and a smaller fully private system. The public system is either free or heavily subsidised for the country’s citizens at the point of need, and this is paid for partially by an innovative scheme called ‘The Accident Compensation Corporation’ (the ACC).

The ACC covers the cost of treatment for cases which are deemed to be as a result of an accident, such as injuries sustained playing sport or in a car crash. The funding is received from levies placed on employers, employees and even vehicle registrations.

Non accidental injuries and illnesses for which the patient requires treatment are provided free of charge, assuming that the patient has been referred by a GP or family doctor. Whilst this secondary treatment is free the initial visit to the GP will cost between $45NZD and $60NZD (around £24 - £32).

The public health system in New Zealand is split into 20 different district health boards (DHBs), 15 of these serve the 3.5 million North Island residents, and 5 operate for the 1 million on the South Island.

The private system is smaller than many other countries, making up roughly 23% of the market, however it plays a crucial role in loosening the workload on the state system. This keeps the average waiting times for common surgeries like knee and hip lower than they are in the UK, and ensures that a focus can be placed on the quality of the service not the time taken.

How Generous is Healthcare Spending?

11.1% of New Zealand’s total GDP is spent on healthcare, a larger percentage than other major countries like the UK, Japan, Spain and Finland. This investment is reflected in the higher than average life expectancy, a figure that is continuing to rise at an impressive pace. It is estimated that a newborn child in New Zealand will now live to the age of 93 - a tribute to the success of the system, and healthy lifestyle that it promotes.

Salaries in the country are usually similar to the UK, a GP can expect to earn between $150,000NZD to $180,000NZD (£80,000 - £96,000), whilst consultants wages are commonly closer to $200,000NZD - $300,000NZD (£107,000 - £160,000), with plenty of added incentives. The income tax rate in the country is just 33%, whilst there is no National Insurance meaning that net earnings are often more than they are in the UK.

The attractions aren’t solely financial either, working hours in New Zealand are lower than they are in the NHS, and medics can benefit from more annual leave and study breaks. Whilst the relaxed lifestyle in the country also makes it a great place to move to if you want out of the NHS bureaucracy, and get back to enjoying your career.

What Will I Need?

If the idea of a move is appealing to you then it could be time to discover how realistic it could be.

Requirements to work in New Zealand are very similar to those in the United Kingdom. Employers will look for the relevant degree and board certification or fellowship, with GMC, French, German, American and other similar locations the most sought after. As well as this three years of experience is likely to be the minimum accepted for more senior positions, whilst fluency in English is absolutely essential.

If you have those attributes, a well written CV and a ‘can do’ attitude then the move is likely to be a very realistic one indeed.

Who is Especially in Demand?

Two roles are in major demand at the moment. Psychiatry and General Practice.

New Zealand is facing a major battle with mental health, especially amongst young people, and there is a real shortage of psychiatrists and consultant psychiatrists in the country. We’ve got a number of exciting roles on the website at this very moment for psychiatrists, simply click on ‘jobs’ to see them and apply.

General Practitioners are also in demand, though not quite as highly as they are in Australia at the moment. These roles are often in more rural locations though, so if you are a GP be prepared to work outwith the major cities when you first relocate.

Start your journey today by registering on our website.