26 March 2006
UK doctors and nurses seek better lifestyles abroad: but it's not the NHS funding cuts, it’s the weather
Despite the recent spate of National Health Service (NHS) announcements detailing funding cuts and what some have termed a ‘slash-and-burn approach’ to cutting jobs, the NHS isn’t routinely cited by doctors and nurses as a top cause for leaving the UK health system; it’s weather and lifestyle opportunities abroad.
Doom and gloom figures were published in several London-based daily newspapers over the weekend projecting a loss of up to 25,000 jobs in the NHS. With much being made of the failure of last week’s Budget to address key NHS issues, the system and its front-line employees are poised to be in the media glare for the coming weeks.
‘If the numbers suggested by the Tories that were published in the weekend’s press are any indication cuts to come, there’s likely to be a significant number front-line medical staff, including nurses and perhaps even doctors, looking for opportunities abroad,’ said Oonagh Baerveldt, spokesperson for Visa Bureau. ‘But in fact, those who choose to go aboard will have already been thinking about a lifestyle change.’
The Australian and New Zealand health care systems are keenly interested in attracting skilled nurses and doctors to live and work in the respective countries. Australia and New Zealand have included on their Migration Occupations in Demand List and Immediate Skills Shortage List respectively, doctors with specialisation such as paediatrics, and registered nurses including those with specialties in midwifery and mental health.
‘The skills shortages in western countries like Britain, Australia and New Zealand are more acutely felt in the medical professions because of our comprehensive health care systems. The feedback we’re receiving from nurses is they aren’t leaving the NHS because of funding cuts, ageing populations in western countries are putting a strain on all health care systems, it’s a personal decision based on lifestyle, weather and a more manageable patient load in a more rural environment,’ said Baerveldt.
‘Australia has even taken the step of changing their stance on same sex couples looking to emigrate under the skilled visa category in response to medical staff shortages in its regional areas. Senator Vanstone from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs said in her own press release that doctors who couldn’t sponsor same sex partners were declining to come to the regional areas of Australia to practice. By the end of the year, nurses and doctors who want to sponsor same sex partners under the country’s skilled visa program will be able to; that’s a direct change in response to the needs of medical practitioners,’ said Baerveldt.
‘Nurses and doctors who have been educated and trained in the UK, or have a significant UK health care experience are in an excellent position to move to Australia or New Zealand to practise,’ said Baerveldt. ‘Interested candidates can visit the Visa Bureau web site and fill in the online assessment for Australia or New Zealand to see if they meet the eligibility requirements. Jobs are certainly available for those who maybe looking now or in the near future.’