For those from the UK, working as a GP in Australia can be life-transforming!

As a GP you are likely to work fewer hours then in the UK and earn significantly more.  It’s this ability to balance your life between work and leisure without loss of income that sets Australia apart as a great destination for work-weary UK GPs.

UK GPs often cite another reason for making the move.  Working as a GP in Australia actually gives them the chance to treat patients properly – to do what they were trained to do – to have a sense of fulfillment in their work which is something they often lack working in the UK.

If that were not reason enough to make the move, as a GP working in Australia, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of choice you have in the way you carry out your work.  Consider how many choices you have in the following paragraphs…

Working as a GP

GPs working in Australia can choose how many patients per hour they see. The average across the country is 4.5 patients per hour but some will only see 4 per hour and others up to 6. You will not be under pressure to see more patients than you are comfortable with. GPs will not be required to put in additional hours at the end of their day to complete paper work. In Australia, any paperwork required is done within the consult time, and at the end of your last patient consult, you are free to go home. As the GP is not under pressure to push the patients through, it opens up the opportunity to actually treat your patients. You can choose to take the time to assess their needs, to consider their ongoing health, and if appropriate to put in place care plans and ongoing appointments and treatments – to take a preventative approach to caring for their needs.
Because GPs are contracted to the practice and not salaried, you will be paid on a patient by patient consultation – you are only paid when you see patients. This has a bearing on your income and gives you much greater autonomy in the way you work – you can choose to take time to treat a patient or set up a care plan without undue time constraints. And it puts you very firmly in charge of how much you will earn. As a contractor to the practice, you will be paid a percentage of each patient consult fee, and the practice retains the remainder to cover the facilities and services they bring to the party. The GP will be offered anywhere between 60% and 70% of billings but most commonly, 65% of each patient billing. In most instances, you will also be offered a minimum guarantee for 3 to 6 months while you build up your patient base – and remember – you are only paid for seeing patients so having a good steady stream of patients is very important. In considering your job options, our advice is unequivocal: chase the patient demand and not the higher percentage of billings. We explore this further in our GP salary page.
GPs are contracted to a practice rather than salaried, this offers significant choice about the number of hours you will work. Typically, full time is approximately 35 to 40 hours per week, but you can choose to work less or more hours, subject to the needs of the practice. And you will not be required to work additional hours at the end of the day on paper work. If you agree to work 38 hours for a practice, you will work 38 hours to include paperwork, after hours and weekend work.
There are some restrictions on where UK GPs can work. Australia has a shortage of GPs across the country as a whole but not necessarily in the main cities, so to more evenly distribute the GP workforce, overseas trained GPs are required to work in areas where there is a particular shortage of GPs – in Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS). For more information the DWS restrictions, visit our DWS GP jobs page
Primary care in Australia is funded by a unique blend of state and private funding. Medicare pays for everyone to see the GP at the point of need, but some choose to see the GP and pay privately for their consultation. The government offers tax incentives for those who use their own money or take out medical insurance and this element of private funding eases the pressure on the state making the whole system work rather well and, crucially, offering patients choice. This gives you as a GP working in Australia yet another choice! You can work in a practice specifically set up to see only those patients who are funded by Medicare – the patient is not charged a fee and no money changes hands – and at the end of the fortnight the practice bulk bills Medicare for all the patients seen in that period. We call these practices bulk billing practices. Or you can work in a practice which charges patients privately. Typically the fee ranges from about $50 – $70. Such practices will however also see patients who will be bulk billed – the elderly and children in particular – so we call these practices mixed billing – a mix of private and bulk billing. Some GPs feel strongly that they would prefer to work in one or other of these types of practices. We advise UK GPs to keep an open mind however as there are pros and cons for both and, significantly, there is very little difference in income. For a more detailed appraisal, read our blog – Pros and Cons of Mixed billing.
A single independent practice may be owned privately by a GP, businessman, or a number of people working in the practice. Usually such practices are smaller with anywhere from two to ten GPs, for example. We do have some such smaller practices with jobs for UK GPs, but you may find there are more opportunities with Groups and Corporate practices. Sometimes, these single independently owned practices become particularly successful and will open further practices in their area, exploiting economies of scale and their local knowledge. These groups of practices will usually have significantly more financial support than the single practice and therefore offer good opportunities to UK GPs on starting work in Australia. Then there are the corporate practices. Most are listed on the stock exchange and benefit from significant financial investment which makes them highly profitable and well able to invest in their medical centres and their GPs. They offer generous packages, are well set-up to take on UK GPs and support them in getting to know the Australian medical system. Whilst this opens up even more choice for you, it would be prudent for UK GPs considering their job options to assess which offers not just the best package but the best training and support in integrating into the Australian system.
At Alecto we have experience in placing hundreds of UK GPs over recent years and will be happy to guide you through the options, looking at the benefits of each job and how it will suit your circumstances and lifestyle. And if anything does go wrong, we will fix it! We, at Alecto, are in there with you not just for the lifetime of your job, but for the lifetime of your work in Australia, should you wish us to be. Visit our Why Alecto page.
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