Australia offers free weekends to lure NHS consultants

Government should not be surprised or offended. After all, we have been stealing doctors from Africa, and the Indian subcontinent for years, and only allowing 11:2 applicants to have places to train in Medical School here in the UK. (Medical Schools: your chances – applications-to-acceptance ratio was 11.2.) Who would want to be a consultant in the UK when the minister derides their contribution …?

Improving safety needs a “buy in” by professionals. Scapegoating and denial, and causing antagonism are not the way to treat professionals.. but they might start a war.

Kat Lay in The Times 22nd July 2015 reports: Australia offers free weekends to lure NHS consultants

Australia is sending a message to NHS consultants: come and enjoy our glorious sunshine and beaches and we will not make you work seven days a week.

Health recruiters are trying to lure British consultants with big salaries and promises of a better “work-life balance” after the health secretary’s threat last week to impose seven-day contracts.

An email advertising six-figure salaries for consultant radiologists said that the weekend working contract might mean that it was “time to start thinking about a new life in Australia”.

The BMA said that it showed that Jeremy Hunt’s speech last week, in which he said he would remove opt-outs of weekend working from new consultant contracts, had been “a spectacular own goal”. Two online petitions against Mr Hunt continuing as health secretary have amassed more than 200,000 signatures between them.

The email sent to doctors last week from the Head Medical recruitment agency based in Edinburgh promised that in Australia “the work/life balance not only genuinely exists as a way of life, but is also promoted by the employer as a unique selling point.”

Mr Hunt, speaking at the King’s Fund last Thursday, said: “No doctors currently in service will be forced to move on to the new contracts, although we will end extortionate off-contract payments for those who continue to exercise their weekend opt-out.”

He accused the BMA of being “a roadblock to reforms”, adding: “Be in no doubt: if we can’t negotiate, we are ready to impose a new contract.”

A BMA spokeswoman said: “His attack on the profession is being used as a recruitment tool to lure doctors away from the NHS at a time when many parts of the health service are facing a recruitment and retention crisis.”

The pay scale for consultants in England starts at £75,000 and goes up to £101,000 after 19 years. In contrast, there are adverts for a £190,000 general surgeon post in Queensland, a £165,000 psychiatry post in Queensland and a £118,000 emergency medicine consultant job in New Zealand.

The email from Head Medical sought consultant radiologists with salaries from £125,000 to £400,000.

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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