Australia

My first year in Australia – an ex NHS Consultant’s experience.

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My first year in Australia – an NHS Consultant’s experience.

A blog for doctors planning or in the process of moving to Australia wouldn’t offer much insight without first hand accounts from people who have actually gone and done it.

So I am pleased to present to you the first in this series.

This doctor is a Consultant/Specialist who moved to Australia in late 2016.

Their specialisation and location will not be divulged to protect their anonymity.

Please note: not all college processes or requirements are the same. The Royal Australian College of Surgeons assessment process – for example – differs greatly from the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists assessment process.

“I was born in India and completed my basic training in India. I completed my advanced training in the U.K.

I was getting fed up with working in the NHS and personally have never really enjoyed the British winter. There were some other very personal reasons as well why I chose to move. I have always wanted to live somewhere warmer and longed for a bit more sun than you can ever get in the UK.

Of the whole business of getting assessed by the college and medical registration? Looking back now, I think the college process was probably the easiest to negotiate – although pricey.  It is an expensive business flying to Australia. I ended up spending more than GBP9000 between visits and the college fees.

An AON (Area of Need) assessment is job specific. It comes with a lot of restrictions and neither the employer nor me can yet understand most of that jargon. Medicare provider number restrictions are other issues for overseas graduates. If Medicare does not provide the numbers, you cannot bill the patients in private land so you cannot report the examinations. I haven’t got provider numbers for an area of my work.

I work for a private company with many partners and each having a say in their own right. So effectively I have many bosses. One is bad enough! They made several promises one of which was that I could go home every 2 weeks but they seem to have backtracked. They themselves are at a loss with their employment rules, the visa rules and the Medicare rules .

I suppose working in a public hospital might have been simpler. But unfortunately there are no public jobs in Radiology.

There is no clarity on the number of working hours or the workload in my speciality. You are expected to finish all that is loaded on your work list. So whilst on paper you finish at 5, there is no chance you can leave before 530pm or even 6pm on most days.

But otherwise my colleagues are a friendly lot . They seem to socialise a lot more than we ever did in the NHS. They have a good sense of humour and overall as a people, I like the Australians. Full of life and humour. This is the biggest plus I see. I work in a remote area in Australia by definition but it is pretty much a city.

AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) is the biggest hurdle I think. I was getting to the point where I had already spent a significant amount of money and if AHPRA wasn’t going to get their stuff together, I had a good mind to back out and return to the UK.

I still have to do paperwork for AHPRA every few months and my employer has already got the wrong forms sent off twice. I wonder why they cannot give you a pack of those forms when you first start?  Renewing the registration this year has already taken 2 months. AHPRA are the biggest bureaucratic hurdle in this place and they lack clarity.

I cannot complain about the weather at all. I love the fact that I do not have to travel to or from from work in darkness. You can go out for a walk or a jog most evenings after work. I am fitter now than I ever have been in the last 10 years and I have more energy to do things. My children love the outdoors and are thoroughly enjoying school. They attend a private school and I am very pleased with the standards. They are exposed to many more cultures and foods. They regularly  play sports and love the council funded facilities especially the swimming pools.

People at work are generally friendly. I do think there is a bit of racism but it has not affected us on a personal basis as we have been accepted as British.

The hospital is very multicultural. The specialists I work with are all locally trained and really good at the job.

I still have another year before I can finally sort out my paperwork. I have to get my local qualifications – sit some college exams and then sort out a long term residency visa but I am nowhere near this right now.

My advice to doctors from the UK especially for my speciality is that they should try and come as early as they can in their careers and take up training jobs or fellowship positions if they intend to stay for long. The paperwork then gets easier to negotiate.

Early in their careers they are also not set in their British ways of doing things when they arrive in Australia. The two systems are in intent similar but in reality very different from each other.

 The National Health service – despite its shortcomings – is still one of the finest health services on the planet from a patient’s perspective. I just wish it could be managed better. The level of expertise, knowledge and the level of care that doctors in the NHS provide is far superior compared to the Australian health care service.

Certainly, a job as an NHS Consultant in the UK can be far more rewarding and fulfilling for a doctor professionally – under the right circumstances – compared to a job in the Australian private sector despite the substantial differences in remuneration.”

Photo credit:

Mike Wilson

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