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UK GPs happier abroad, new study finds

Nine out of ten doctors who emigrate to New Zealand to work decide not to come back, a new study has found.

Research by a team from Oxford University on 282 UK-trained doctors working in New Zealand suggests they stay in their adopted country because of better job and leisure time satisfaction compared with their NHS contemporaries remaining in the UK - with leisure time satisfaction scores markedly higher.

Respondents´mean job satisfaction score was 8.1 on a scale of one to 10 compared with 7.1 for contemporaries in the UK. The equivalent scores for leisure time satisfaction were 7.8 compared to 5.7 for NHS doctors.

The research showed only 30% of doctors who emigrated had planned to stay in New Zealand permanently but 89% now intended to stay.

Typical comments included: ‘Better lifestyle – outdoor sports and activities… better weather. More relaxed. Less uptight. Good place to bring up children.'

Some respondents had left the UK because they were disillusioned with the NHS or because they did not have a job or a place on a training programme. This was significantly more evident for more recently qualified doctors, who also commented on the importance of reducing barriers to re-entry and of the UK accepting Australasian qualifications, the researchers said.

Lead author Trevor Lambert, a senior researcher in the Medical Careers Research Group at Oxford said: ‘While the appeal of their overseas lifestyle dissuades many emigrants from returning home, easing re-entry of UK-trained doctors to UK medicine might be a factor worth consideration.'

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Readers' comments (1)

  • NHS has been abrupt with doctors and damaging to patients in the way they try to control GP's prescribing.
    Julien Given of Newcastle group in a paper full of statisctics showed if Gps are allowed to prescribe slightly more expensive cot effective medication,immididiate and long term costs with morbidity and mortality of patients can be significantly reduced.
    Prof Tony Barnet's statements quoting evidence based medicine says the same costs ,mortality ,morbidity which doctors are supposed to reduce is reduced.
    However also, in interest of preserving Public Confidence in the Profession, quite often regularity bodies address partic Particulars ignoring very important Public Health Issues., which can affect Doctors careers and the public. I produce three illustrating case scenarios which are a common occurrence in General Practice.
    NICE guidelines say if we fear hypoglycaemia we should not prescribe Sulphonylureas, which endocrinologists say often occurs with them
    Picture 3 cases of GPs.
    1) A GP forced by the cost-cutting NHS PCT to prescribe cheaper Sulphonylureas as second line treatment in Diabetes Mellitus, His patient drops his blood sugar detected by Traffic officers to 2.2mmol/litre. His GP because of cost-cutting could not provide him Blood Sugar testing strips.
    The GP is hauled before GMC for allowing his patient to meet with an accident, and to preserve public confidence is struck off the GMC List
    2) A conscientious GP REFUSES TO PRESCRIBE Sulphonylureas as second line treatment. His PCT trumps up charges against him and hauls him before GMC.GMCFTPP releases GP places him back on GP specialist List. The PCT trumps up further charges, steps up impractical unproven goals and sends him before GMC. The demoralised conscientious GP suffers physically and mentally from this torture. His defence bodies, because of the three years GMCFTPP took to clear the doctor, refuse to continue their indemnity. The GMC takes PCT’s claims seriously, ignoring Public health issues involved which the GP brings up. To preserve’ public confidence’ this GP is also struck off.
    3) A third scenario is an NHS accommodating GP prescribes Hypoglycaemia inducing Sulphonylureas and his patient dies of it. The death is labelled as a Prinzmetal Variant MI or cardiac arrhythmia, which have no post mortem evidence. The GP has got off scot free and will live with his biting conscience for the rest of his life. In such circumstances being a GP in the UK is a curse
    `

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