Breaking Australian immigration update: Many UK panel doctors set to be removed

DIAC is removing the number of panel
doctors eligible to conduct medical checks
for Australian immigration applicants

Even in the ever-changing world of Australian immigration, it's still generally accepted that upon being requested by your Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) case officer to submit health and character checks, you've entered the final stages of having your Australia visa application finalised and potentially just a month or two away from being ready to migrate.

However, a recent change that affects this final stage (and which many migrants may have missed out on) is the current review of UK panel doctors by DIAC. You can see the notification on the top of this page here, but you'll notice that there isn't an awful lot of information given.

Since hearing about this update though, we've spoken to a few GPs who have received notification from DIAC that they will be removed as eligible panel doctors (with some set to be removed as soon as the end of the week).

It's interesting seeing DIAC rationalise the decision, as you can see in the following paragraph of the notification letter sent to affected doctors:

"By reducing single panel clinics in areas of relatively low demand and concentrating services in centralised areas with clinics that can provide a one stop shop for clients, we are expecting to be able to provide our clients with a higher level of all round service. While we recognise that some clients may need to travel greater distances in order to visit a panel doctor we believe this will be balanced by the other factors."

It's certainly arguable that reducing the number of eligible panel doctors will provide Australia visa applicants with a 'higher level of all round service', especially if you're required to travel much further than previously to visit an eligible doctor as a result. Regardless though, the most pertinent piece of information to people currently at this stage of their application seems to be the following:

"All medicals conducted prior to your removal should now be completed and forwarded to the processing office by 25 January 2010. However, should you have any medical cases you conducted prior to your removal which are yet to be finalised due to outstanding requirements, please proceed to complete these."

Therefore, the situation seems to be that any checks conducted with a panel doctor who has since been removed will still be accepted by DIAC, provided they were initially conducted BEFORE the panel doctor was notified they would be removed.

This is good news for any visa applicants who are awaiting the results of their medical checks, but should also come as a warning to anyone preparing to enter this stage of the process. It is VITAL that you keep aware of the most current list of accepted panel doctors (which you can find here) before you arrange for any medical checks to be conducted.

It's also advisable that you confirm with your doctor on the day of the medical checks to ensure that they are still listed by DIAC, so you don't risk paying for medical checks which will not be accepted and could risk lengthening the finalisation of your application for Australian immigration.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.