After my GP training, I worked for the Australian public hospital system as a year out. I thoroughly enjoyed the working conditions, pay, breadth of experience and lifestyle. But there was only a need for rural GPs, so I returned to the UK to become a partner.
I embraced the first two years of the new GP contract enthusiastically. We hit 1,050 points both years and luxuriated in a lack of out-of-hours responsibility. But, no funding meant that my recently achieved trainer status was unused and premises remained out of date. I remembered Australia, and the weather.
I accidentally discovered that not only could I work on the Sunshine Coast, where there are 300 sunny days a year, but also having done the MRCGP I could get residency and reciprocal approval for the FRACGP. It took a few months to arrange a temporary visa for four years, and since being here, I have managed to convert it into a permanent one.
I am now working as a full-time ‘independent contractor’ for a group practice in a branch surgery in a town called Woombye. My hours and paperwork are less, my working environment more pleasant and my computer software superior. I can request anything from CTs to MRIs, Dopplers to echoes and even nuclear medicine tests.
Forty per cent of the population have private insurance and I have admitting rights to the local private hospital. We have to bill patients for each service we provide and they claim the money back from the state Medicare system.
There is less chronic disease management and nurse involvement in primary care, but both are growing steadily. There is no capitation so you do have to keep seeing people to earn a living. I have to work a weekend rota of six hours every sixth week.
Our house is near a surf beach, and has a pool and sauna. I am not going to be earning as much but the lifestyle compensates. I spent a weekend watching the Ashes and, I swear, patients booked appointments afterwards just to give me grief, as did the vet, chemist, real estate agent, etc.
Dr Bryan Palmer is a GP recently emigrated from the UK
- Queensland recruitment agency which will help with the paperwork. www.healthworkforce.com.au
- Government advice from www.doctorconnect.gov.au
- Immigration advice from www.immi.gov.au/skilled /medical-practitioners