Important Changes to Both the RACGP Registration Process and the Visa System

The RACGP and the Australian immigration department are planning some major changes to how UK and Irish GPs get to work in Australia over the next few months.

We expect these changes to make a significant difference to how easy or other wise it is to get to work in Australia

Here is a brief summary of what we think theses changes will mean:

RACGP Changes

  • The RACGP is planning a new two stage process to be introduced in the third quarter of this year – so at any point from 1st July.
  • The changes are aimed at tightening up of the RACGP’s professional standards policy – in line with what the GMC has done / is doing in the UK. They do not appear to be designed to limit or curtail the number of UK / Irish GPs going to Australia
  • When they do introduce the changes, they’ve said that they will temporarily stop accepting applications until they’ve set up the new system. We don’t yet know how long the halt will be for but my best guess is a month at least
  • The new process will mean that it is going to take longer to become a fully qualified GP in Australia.
  • They won’t be asking GPs to take exams – it’s more likely that the first stage will be a document check as per now. Followed by a second stage where GPs begin work in Australia but do so on a “specialist pathway” with a mentor / supervisor. We expect this “pathway” to be monitored via a 6 month work based assessment (WBA), which will need to be signed off by a mentor at the practice where you are working. After that, you’ll get Fellowship and full rights as a GP in Australia.
  • There is a potential implication for your earnings in these first 6 months – we don’t yet have any details on this side of things yet but hopefully it won’t be too detrimental.
  • At the moment, the proposals are at consultation stage. They might get shelved but our view is that it is more likely that they will be implemented

Visa changes

  • There are also changes happening to the visa system – the 457 visa (which most doctors have used to go to work in Australia) is being replaced in March 2018 with two different visas – one for 2 years, the other for 4.
  • With immediate effect though, there are some changes to the lists of skilled occupations associated the 457 visa. The old Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) are being replaced by the “Medium and Long-Term Strategic List (MLTSSL) and Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STOSL). The new MTSSL broadly corresponds to the old SOL and GPs are on this new MLTSSL. So they can continue to get 4 year, 457  visas (for the time being)
  • There will be a further changes in July this year – another review of which occupations are on the list and changes to the requirements for police checks and language thresholds (we don’t expect these changes to affect GPs but we can’t be certain)
  • Then another set of changes come in next March (2018). It looks like that at that point the 457 will be replaced by 2 year and 4 year visas, each with different benefits & conditions.
  • We understand that the four year visa will be renewable. Permanent Residency will be an option after 3 years. Plus, there are various additional workforce tests and training requirements
  • We understand that the two year visa will be renewable once only while in Australia (ie total of 4 years of work available). There are also likely to be various additional workforce tests and training requirements (as per the 4 year visa)
  • These visa changes do not seem to be specifically aimed at doctors – more likely, these changes are targeting lower paid / less skilled workers to stop them being recruited for jobs which could be done by Australian residents


  • Please note that there are still significant shortages of GPs in Australia and we’re sure that both the RACGP and the visa department are not looking to stop UK & Irish GPs from going to Australia
  • We currently have clinics in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast keen to recruit – please let me know if you’d like more details or would like to chat about the jobs or the changes to the regulations

All in all, if you are considering moving to Australia and can make the arrangements now (ie you have MRCGP / MICGP), then it would be much better to set things in motion now than wait until the new RACGP system comes into force!

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