Why work in Australia as a GP?

Sydney Harbour Fireworks

Sydney Harbour Fireworks

Why work in Australia as a GP?

Here’re some reasons:

Less hassle – Australia is growing and its health service is well funded

Less bureaucracy – you’re employed to see patients, not run the practice or the health service

More medicine – there’s a national shortage of GPs to see patients. You’ll spend your time consulting not filling in paperwork or dealing with NHS reforms

More money – great earning potential………..typical earnings are between $A240,000 (£117,000) and $A300,000 (£146,000) per annum

“There is far less pressure to see patient numbers beyond that which one can safely manage”. Says one GP working in Perth. This quote is by a doctor from Glasgow who moved to Rockingham in February 2012.

We’ve got GP jobs near to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide & Darwin.

We’ve also got  non-DWS* jobs in the CBDs (Central Business District) of most of the major cities.

*non-DWS jobs. These are open to doctors who have held registration in Australia for at least 10 years. This ruling also applies to UK / Irish / NZ doctors who worked in Australia in the early part of their career – even if those doctors have returned to their home country in the intervening period 

Reasons to work in Australia:

Strong medical system – Australia has an excellent health care system. Australians have longer life expectancy than Brits and the system, based on a mix of private and public provision, is fairer and more inclusive than the US system.

Strong economy, low unemployment (4.9%). Australia is well placed for economic growth over the next few years. It has many of the mines for the raw materials used by much of south east Asia and it has a strong service sector, linking the Asian economies with the USA. Australia’s per capita GDP is higher than the UK, France or Germany.

Choice of  jobs. We’ve got GP Jobs in Australia in most states and in all types of location – big cities, small towns, in the bush.

Exciting range of outdoor activities and lifestyles. Australia has so much to offer: white sandy beaches, warm summer evenings, sun-burnt landscapes, amazing coral reefs, snow capped mountains and untouched wilderness. Plus great cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin and Adelaide.

Ultrasound-clinic-300x199It’s a big place!  Sydney in the south is 24 hours away by plane from Europe, yet Darwin in the north of the country is closer to Singapore than it is to Sydney.

Most of Australia’s population is concentrated in two widely separated coastal regions – the south-east and east, and the south-west. Of the two regions, the south-east and east is by far the largest in area and population. The population within these regions is concentrated in urban centres, particularly the state and territory capital cities

Where are the GP jobs in Australia and what is “DWS”?

Most of the GP jobs are with family doctor groups and usually in areas where there are shortages of GPs at the moment. This does not mean the jobs are all out in the “bush” (though some can be), rather they usually in outer metropolitan areas of the main cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Most GPs in Australia are self-employed and work in private practice where they charge patients a fee for services provided. These charges are, for the most part, rebated via Medicare, the Australian Public Health care system.  For this to happen, you, as the GP, will need to hold a Medicare Provider Number.  For doctors who didn’t train in Australia, these are generally only available for areas classified as District of Workforce Shortage (DWS). This mechanism means that Australia “directs” doctors coming to work as GPs to particular areas of the country.   If you take one of these jobs, you will be expected to stay within an area of DWS for up to 10 years. There are some exceptions to this for jobs that are in more remote areas – we can help sort through this when the time gets closer.   We do have some GP jobs that aren’t governed by DWS regulations – specifically our Out of Hours Jobs in Melbourne and Perth. See this link for details: http://www.gpjobsinaustralia.co.uk/vacancies/201031-out-of-hours-melbourne-andor-perth/

And what about the money?   How much will I earn?

General Practice in Australia.

Most GPs in Australia are self-employed and work in private practice where they charge patients a fee for services provided. These charges are, for the most part, rebated via Medicare, the Australian Public Health care system. For this to happen, you, as the GP, will need to hold a Medicare Provider Number. For doctors who didn’t train in Australia, these are generally only available for areas classified as District of Workforce Shortage (DWS). This mechanism means that Australia “directs” doctors coming to work as GPs to particular areas of the country.

Most GPs are paid on a “percentage of billings”. This means that as a vocationally registered GP you may expect to earn between $A240,000 to $A300,000 per annum (£117,000 to £146,000). The actual amount is dependent on a number of factors – the billing percentage, whether the practice is mixed billing, the number of patients you see in an hour and the location of the practice.

Usually the client has a budget available to help you move to Australia to cover flights etc.

Some of our clients can offer signing on bonuses too. Usually, this just helps to cover your costs of moving and give you a good start financially for the first few months. However, one or two clients offer large amounts ($225,000 for example), which makes a big difference!

What’s the Australian Health care system like?

Australia mixes private and public provision in a way which seems to avoid the worst excesses of  systems elsewhere in the world. As a result, they have an enviable healthcare record with infant mortality at 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. (Britain has 4.8 per 1,000 live births) and life expectancy at birth for Australians is 81.4 years, compared to 79.5 in Britain. Calculations of potentially preventable deaths in advanced economies put Australia at 71 per 100,000 population (for 2002-3) compared to 103 per 100,000 in UK. Healthcare expenditure in Australia as a proportion of GDP is 8.9 per cent, 0.5 per cent more than Britain. The country also has more practising doctors than Britain – 2.8 per 1,000 population, against the UK’s 2.5. (source Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/expathealth/7898820/Expat-guide-to-Australia-health-care.html)   Medicare is the name given to the “umbrella” which covers the provision of health services throughout the country. It acts like an insurer, covering 100% of hospital expenses  and 75% of primary care expenses (though patients can take extra insurance to cover the shortfall). Both private and public healthcare providers can apply to provide services via Medicare and this leads to competition between providers. Most GP services are via private providers – whether as individual practices or as part of a large corporate.   Medicare is funded, in part, via a 1.5% levy on taxable income (rising to 2.5% for people earning over $100,000 if they don’t have their own, additional, private health cover). The rest of the money to cover the costs is provided by general taxation.

How much income tax will I have to pay?

Income tax on personal income is a progressive tax. The current tax-free threshold is $6,000, and the highest marginal rate for individuals is 45%. In addition, most Australians are liable to pay the Medicare levy, of which the standard is 1.5% of taxable income This levy increases to 2.5% for those earning over $100,000 if they don’t have alternative private health insurance These are the current tax rates for non-residents for 2010-11
Taxable income Tax on this income Effective Tax Rate
$0 – $37,000 29c for each $1 29%
$37,001-$80,000 $10,730 plus 30c for each $1 over $37,000 29% to 30%
$80,001 to $180,000 $23,630 plus 37c for each $1 over $80,000 30% to 34%
$180,001 and over $60,630 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,001 34% – 45%

What will it cost us to live in Australia?

Housing: with all that land, you’d think housing would be cheap to buy. Sorry, not true – at least in the main cities. Looking at the bare statistics, the median house price in Brisbane for example is about £300,000, which is higher than the average for, say, Reading in the UK  (£218,000) or even Brighton (£278,000). Rental costs can also be quite expensive in the main cities. Again costs are can be higher than the UK (£1,300 + per month in the main cities for a 2 bedroom apartment. £750 per month for a 3 bedroom house in a small town). This website will provide hours of fun looking at different houses / apartments: http://www.realestate.com.au

Household costs such as electricity & rates etc  look to be less expensive than the UK. Food seems to be a bit more expensive while travel costs (particularly fuel) are less.   This site has some useful guidance on what it costs to live in Australia:http://www.aussiemove.com/aus/costlive.asp 1 $Aus is about 1 US $. Current exchange rate is about $2.05 to the £.

What will it be like working there?

GP practices are modern and well equipped. Medical practice and procedures are amongst the best in the world. Practices are often multi-disciplinary and more like health centres with dentists and other health care professionals to give team-based care (particularly for chronic illness). In lots of ways, primary care in Australia is what they’re planning for primary care to be in the UK – just without the NHS bureaucracy.   The main difference is that if you’re a GP in the UK you will be salaried or in partnership, in Australia you’re likely to be on a share of the billings (somewhere between 50% to 70%, depending on the deal arranged). This takes a bit of getting used to but works well in practice. After a consultation, GPs issue a bill. Medicare, the Australian healthcare system (like our NHS) pays for 75% of the cost for patients to visit their GP. Patients either pay the balance out of their own pocket or use insurance. There is a separate system for people with low incomes that allows bulk billing (effectively this discounts the bill to 75% so that you just get the Medicare element but saves on admin and debt collection)   Practice overheads and day-to-day management are provided by the practice owner.   Australia is increasingly multi-cultural these days and you’re likely to see and work with people from a wide range of  backgrounds.   More information about living and working in australia:   Official website for more information on living in Australia: http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/settle-in-australia/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Australia

I would highly recommend EU Health Staff to any GP looking for work in Australia. They provide a very professional, efficient and friendly service.

As a newly qualified GP with a young family, and having never been to Australia before, the process of finding the right job seemed rather daunting at first. Being matched to the right practice and location was crucial to the success of our move.

Paul, based in the UK, did an excellent job in assessing my needs and interests (and those of my family!) and matching me to the right job/s. This saved me a lot of time and effort. He was also very responsive in replying to my queries, liaising with partners and employers in Australia, arranging interviews, and keeping me up to date with the whole process.

‘Monique, based in Australia, was also immensely helpful as the time of our move approached, and communicated directly with my wife regarding many practical queries that we had. This was great for us as I was busy working full-time and had no time to make calls to Australia at a suitable time; or to reply to emails promptly. Monique also gave us a warm welcome to Perth and was there on my first day at work here.

My wife and I feel as though we were guided by the hand in what could have otherwise been a very confusing and frustrating maze of application forms, registration steps and overseas phone calls. Quite honestly, I don’t think we would have got very far in the process had we attempted it ourselves unaided!

We have been in Perth for almost three months now and already feel settled into work and family life here. The adjustment process has not been as challenging as we expected. We have made friends easily and are enjoying the outdoor lifestyle…even in winter! We are already planning to stay longer than we first anticipated…even buying a house. Many thanks to Paul, Monique and partners for helping to make this move a reality and success for our family! You are the best!
Dr A. R.