Al's Australia Trip - Working in Australia (Part One)

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One of our Senior Recruitment Consultants, Al Spinner, is currently travelling across Australia meeting with healthcare providers around the country. He thought he'd write a series of blogs detailing his journey, and share with you his experience, knowledge, and useful insights into how to achieve the dream of living and working as a Doctor in this fantastic destination.

Location: Brisbane Water, East Gosford, Central Coast, New South Wales

On 14th April I travelled to Australia to meet with healthcare providers around the country. I thought it would be useful to write a blog series exploring the considerations and implications of moving to Australia as a Consultant/Specialist Doctor (most of this content will also be relevant to GPs).

Some background – I am Australian, my father comes from Seaforth,Sydney. I moved to Australia with my wife Ellen in 2001, where we rented and bought property, our boys were born and went to school in Sydney, and we all fortuitously enjoyed the booming Australian economy between 2001–2014. This experience means I am well placed to provide you with excellent information regarding living and working in Australia.

In Australia, healthcare is delivered via public and private bodies. Australia is a federation of states and territories. The Federal Government funds (70–80%) the states' and territories' (they self-fund 20–30%) healthcare budgets, and they run operations and deliver services as they see fit. This is why a state can pay their Consultants in the public system far more than another state might (but more of that in a later blog).

Some numbers – Australia spent $140.2 billion on healthcare in 2011–2012. Health expenditure here has grown faster than population growth. Expenditure increased from AU$4,276 per person in 2001–02 to AU$6,230 in 2011–12.*

Universal healthcare is delivered through Medicare, which was introduced in 1984 to deliver free or subsidised treatment. You can choose to have Medicare only or Medicare and private health insurance. We chose to have both. Advantages to using private health as well as Medicare include a tax rebate and a rich variety of niche ancillary care (physio, massage, optometry, dental etc.). Please note, if you are an international medical graduate moving to Australia, the conditions of your 457 visa require private medical insurance (until Permanent Residency is secured). 

In effect, when you visit a Doctor outside a hospital, Medicare will reimburse you 100% for a GP and 85% of the fee for a specialist. Further, Medicare subsidises prescription services with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Under this scheme, Australians pay part of the cost of most prescription medicines.

My sons were born in the public system in Sydney, even though we had private insurance. Born in different hospitals, my wife Ellen thought the facilities, quality of care and staff were always first class. I used the services of a private ENT Surgeon on one occasion.

The current conservative coalition government has tried to implement price signal charges for GP visits – measures that were rejected by the Senate. Healthcare in Australia – like the UK – remains an ideological battleground. 

There are some unique aspects for certain specialties (such as Radiology, for example) where a larger percentage of the work is delivered privately. However, I will go into these in a later post.

The sun is now well and truly over the yardarm, delivering a pleasant 23 degree Autumnal atmosphere. I’m on barbecue duties this evening, so time for me to season the steaks, rustle up a salad and chill the wine. 

Keep an eye out for my next post which will be about issues – professional and personal –  to consider when contemplating a move to Australia.

* Expenditure sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Read Part Two - The Important Stuff

If you’re interested in working overseas, why not take a look at our Doctor's Guides. Alternatively, you can search all of our current job opportunities.

For further information on Consultant opportunities in Australia, contact Eunan O’Brien on +44 (0)131 240 5271 / eunan@headmedical.com, or Caroline O'Hagan on +44 (0)131 240 5252 / caroline@headmedical.com

For further information on GP opportunities in Australia, contact Vicki McLaren on +44 (0)131 240 5263 or email vicki@headmedical.com