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Why I left Britain (and I'm not coming back)

Golden hellos can’t beat golden beaches, writes Dr Gaurav Tewary

I left my job in Coventry less than a year ago for Australia because I was getting fed up with the NHS - the constant restructuring, the erosion of its basic principles and the constant media negativity about GPs.

Working in Australia has been amazing, mainly because of the lifestyle. I currently live in New South Wales. The city has great weather, amazing beaches, and I have an excellent work-life balance.

GPs are also much better rewarded in Australia than they are in the UK - for example, unlike in the NHS, money paid into superannuation can be used to invest in property.

Teething problems

There are drawbacks, of course. Australia is far from everywhere and even the distances within Australia are huge. Sydney to Perth is five hours by air. Roads can be rough and amenities scarce along the way so the choice of city is crucial. Family back in UK seem very far away and the reversed seasons can also make you feel alienated. Christmas on the beach doesn’t seem quite the same.

And while there is great autonomy in practising medicine here, there is greater uncertainty too. You could have a surgery that is doing very well but without warning a new medical centre might open next door offering 8am-to-8pm appointments seven days a week, as well as cheaper services. Suddenly your list could halve in number.

Wherever you go in the world you will never get away from politics and Australia is no exception. Like the UK, this country has excellent outcomes for patients, its health budget is only a small percentage of its GDP, and its primary care system delivers a lot of bang for the money spent on it. Yet - again like the UK - politicians here are hellbent on trying to ‘improve it’.

There is talk of introducing ‘blended payments’ - a mix of fee-for-service and capitation-based payments for GPs. There is also talk of a US-style Health Maintenance Organisations payment system and Australia has employed the University of Plymouth to help it devise a system of revalidation. But the response from the public and the profession here is much more robust than in the UK and several proposals, including co-payments, have already been rejected.

I don’t regret my move one bit. People ask if the new returners’ scheme would tempt me back. There is no response other than to laugh. I spent the equivalent of around £30,000 to get away from it all. Why would I return for half that sum, and more of the same problems?

Dr Gaurav Tewary is a GP in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

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Readers' comments (41)

  • We had a locum helping all day today. She is 34, just left a partnership post and about to emigrate to Australia. Talented, intelligent and trained to the tune of £500,000 then leaves the country. I don't blame her or Gaurav clearing off. You were an established GP in Coventry with so much to offer the local health community when I knew you Gaurav. (it's DB)

    If patients had to pay they'd respect us more, appreciate the time and service we offer them.

    Only a few weeks ago, was having a triage tel call with a patient, third attempt as he did not pick up first 2 times. We are in mid flow, questions and answers, then without a breath he says "3 Big macs, 2 fries, and 2 diet cokes please" - he even paid for them by card before continuing the conversation, didn't even apologise or thought to step out the MacDonalds queue to take the call....

    I needed the time her took to recover from falling over laughing away from the earpiece. But this about sums up how The Daily Mail and this Government as portrayed our worth.

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  • Well done! Good for you!!!

    Have a good life not getting f****d over in the UK by the vermin that run the NHS.

    Only wish I could join you.

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  • In medicine in the UK the scum floats to the top.

    Thank god so many are emigrating. Let's hope the scum doesn't emigrate with them and wreck the profession in other far flung corners.

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  • Super comments and article by Gaurav. It's RV..

    Highly motivating to get out of here some how...

    Keep writing more articles and comments for highlighting these key points to other GP's too...

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  • You're all very disillusioned GP registrars. That's not a good sign for recruitment and retention. That alone is a crisis. RCGP please take note.

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  • I am a new GP registrar, and it's depressing to read Pulsetoday. I joined the career with ambition of becoming a partner, but after reading all the comments on pulsetoday i'm not going to become a partner!!
    I havn't met a single trainee who wants to become a partner this year.

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  • I went to Oz... It was great for the first year. I left because of the uncertainty. My practice kept recruiting GPs and my patient numbers fell!! In the UK you are more financially better off as a Locum with an hourly rate than you are in Oz where you depend on the number of patients you see. Practices exploit you by binding you into restrictive contracts and you can only work in district workforce shortage areas for 10 years !! The Oz dollar is weak and the cost of living is high... Make the best of your UK Locum position and make a good life in the UK where you are at a stones throw from Europe and where you can meet your family and friends whenever you want ... Oz is a dream for those who want to get away... And I enjoyed it while I was there but feel the UK GP Locum can prosper here in the UK and make a great life

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  • And that's not even mentioning the avoidable and completely ridiculous judicial review the RCGP got involved in p*****g more members money up the wall.

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  • This is further to the above comments from some one about UK Locum better off than OZ GP.

    I am not so sore about this. With restructuring NHS and primary care service - with quite a few models coming out - merging, super clinics etc etc I am not so sure this hourly rate of UK GP locum will stand for how long? May be maximum 1 yr?

    I hear from various practice managers that already partners are taking significant pay cuts to run the practice and there is not much money in the pot. So.. Where will the money come from to pay this hourly UK locum GP rate?

    Please could current GP Locums expand on this and explain and foresee how long the UK GP locum holy rate stand at current levels?

    I was predicting as practices do not sustain any longer with hiring Locums at these high rates there will be some law forcing UK GP Locums to tie to practices as salaried doctors for service sake and lack of money?

    I believe it will come soon from RCGP or DOH or GMC making a law that sticking to one practice is mandatory to get appraisal done which will force UK GP locum to stop locuming and stick to a practice as salaried un willingly to get some money for a living...

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