It’s the competition silly. Just as the Health service is a “market” for services, the world is for doctors. More and more doctors considering emigration, and a snowball effect is possible. This is the result of rationing by undercapacity. If both Australia and the UK created more doctors and nurses than we needed, there would not be a problem.. but we have neglected supply for years, and now we are getting our comeuppance.
Junior doctors are fleeing crushing hours and poor pay and flocking to jobs in Australia while Britain’s hospitals struggle to cope with emergency patients because of staff shortages.
At some of Sydney’s most desirable locations, such as Manly Hospital on the city’s northern beaches, at least 80 per cent of the emergency department doctors are now from the UK.
British junior doctors in Sydney said they were flooded with well-paid job offers from hospitals in Australia and New Zealand and that incentives often included lucrative signing-on bonuses.
They are paid up to one third more than they earn in the UK but work fewer hours and see fewer patients because of higher doctor-patient ratios in Australian emergency departments.
Recruitment agencies said that three quarters of British doctors now stayed beyond a year in positions in Australia — a much higher rate of retention than five years ago, when half returned home after a year away.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine estimates the cost to the British taxpayer of training doctors who ultimately end up working in Australia alone is about £130 million.
A&E departments suffered some of their worst waiting-time performances on record over the Christmas period and 13 hospitals declared “major incidents”. Emergency patients were turned away.
British doctors have inundated Australia’s emergency departments, lured by higher pay, shorter hours and better training opportunities.
Victor Uwagboe, the son of a London GP, followed his father into medicine — and music. His second single, Gonna Be There, comes out next week and “there” for him is a Sydney beachside home and a well-paid job at the local hospital which employs scores of other young British colleagues.
He quit his job as a junior doctor in London — where he worked up to 70 hours a week — and moved, initially to New Zealand, to work as a doctor to polish his skills as a rugby winger.
Dr Uwagboe, 35, who trained at King’s College, London, was drawn to Australia by shorter working hours, a better work-life balance and more job satisfaction. The emergency departments of Australian hospitals expect him to diagnose and treat patients, unlike Britain, were he says he mostly dispatched patients to specialists. “I feel like more of a real doctor working in emergency here than I would in a lot of departments in the UK,” Dr Uwagboe told The Times on Sydney’s Manly Beach this week.
He and a couple of his companions — Mark Flett, 32, from Aberdeen and Laura O’Hare, 28, from Belfast — are unlikely to heed the call for British doctors to return home any time soon. Dr Flett has spent the past few months aboard helicopters in Northern New South Wales as a medical retrieval doctor, a field he wants to pursue.
“In the UK, you can be doing 12 or 13-hour shifts with no time for food, no time to go to the toilet. You wouldn’t go home from that and read a textbook. Here you have more staff on, you have time to work and have on-the-job training from consultants, you have a life after work. You don’t go home feeling utterly destroyed,” said Dr Flett.
Dr O’Hare thought she would spend a year working at Manly Hospital, but it’s been 18 months now. “Living by the beach is novelty for me,” she said. “I swim, I’ve tried surfing.” She estimates that four out of five doctors in her department are British. Dr Flett said: “They create an environment here where there is a motivation for learning. In the UK it was crazy hours and inadequate numbers of staff.”