UK doctors lured abroad by sun and triple salaries shun chance to come home

Half the doctors who ditched Britain for Australia following a sizzling salary, sun and Sheilas recruitment campaign are 'unlikely and unwilling’ to return to the NHS.

The General Medical Council said the UK is losing thousands of medics every year to foreign countries offering better pay and work-life balance.

More than 4,800 moved to places like Oz and New Zealand over the past year. Recruiters are hoping to capitalise on ongoing strike action misery to snare more.

While the UK medical workforce is growing it heavily relies on recruitment from overseas. Nearly a third of Brit-based doctors are foreign-trained. But officials say many home-grown medics are now heading abroad.

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More than half of doctors who have left the UK register told an official General Medical Council survey they were both unlikely and unwilling to come back.

Billy Palmer, senior fellow at the Nuffield Trust health think-tank, said: "We’ve benefited hugely from recruiting medical staff from abroad. But the tables have turned."

He said relying on recruitment from overseas was not sustainable and called for greater investment in domestic medics.

But he added: "It’s not as simple as just increasing university places for clinical courses as we have a leaky pipeline with many people not finishing their training or choosing to work outside of the NHS."

He said the health service was no longer as competitive in terms of pay and working conditions citing industrial disputes with the Government as an issue.

Nurses will strike over the May bank holiday weekend while junior doctors are likely to announce further walkouts unless the Government agrees to fresh pay negotiations.

Mr Palmer added: "It’s easy to see why many are considering a move elsewhere.

"Not enough policy action is being taken to address these issues and it is frustrating that the NHS workforce plan keeps being delayed."

Medics have reported an influx of targeted adverts and emails encouraging them to move abroad for better pay and conditions with a notable increase around strike dates.

One ad – with a picture of a young couple walking barefoot on a beach – urged doctors to 'move to Nova Scotia, Canada, where you’ll practise great medicine and live an even better life'.

It started running on April 10 the day before a four-day strike by British Medical Association members.

Dr Mike Greenhalgh, a BMA junior doctors committee deputy chairman, said: "Every junior doctor will know a few friends, colleagues or classmates who have already gone to Australia or New Zealand. Some initially plan to go for a year and end up staying."

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Earlier this month (April) we told how Australia’s population is soaring thanks to Brits being lured Down Under by the prospect of sun, sex and triple their UK salaries.

Over the first three months of this financial year there was a net inflow of 106,000 migrants – the largest quarterly rise since Australia started collecting data in 1925.

Politician Paul Papalia (corr) said he had been blitzed with 60,000 applications for 31,000 jobs after a whirlwind recruitment swoop to combat an employment shortage in Western Australia.

He said plugging a new life in 30C Oz had "not been a hard sell".

"I thought the weather would probably be a big seller. What I didn’t realise was just how many other problems you have over here. I wasn’t aware of the depression hanging over the country. The wages here are far lower. The living conditions are worse. Our houses are two-and-a-half times the size yet energy bills are twice the size here.

"Then there our sunshine, the beaches and the sea. And for those who are single it makes complete sense. Western Australia is known as the Love Island. There is no shortage of ladies. You won’t be single for long."

The police and defence industry minister said Western Australia’s soaring economy has left it with thousands of unfilled job vacancies for nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, mechanics, builders, plumbers, dentists, hospitality workers and miners.

The state pays up to three times the salaries workers earn in the UK.

Paul said he knew Britain had a worker shortage too but had no regrets at stealing staff – and was `surprised’ no-one from the UK Government had tried to stop him. "They don’t seem to be bothered by what we’re doing," he said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the NHS in England had record numbers of staff including 5,100 more doctors compared with January last year (2022), adding trusts had 'individually tailored retention programmes, including focusing on career development and training, to retain staff.'.


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