The Australian Government has warned they could drop GPs from a list of occupations which enables them to move to the country under its points-based migration system.
The move follows evidence that junior doctors, disillusioned by Jeremy Hunt’s decision to push ahead with a new contract for seven day working, were increasingly looking to move abroad.
GP is currently included as one of the professions on Australia’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which makes it easier to get a visa, but the Department of Education and Training said there is emerging evidence of ‘an excess supply’.
GPs are one of a range of medical specialties newly included on Australia’s ‘flagged occupation list’ for this reason, also alongside anaesthetists; cardiologists; endocrinologists; gastroenterologist; intensive care specialists; paediatricians; obstetricians and gynaecologists.
The current Skilled Occupation List is relevant for applicants who are applying for visas through the ’independent points-based skilled migration’ pathway, a Family Sponsored Points Tested visa, or temporary graduate visas. But there are state and employer-sponsored immigration programmes that may not be impacted.
The Australian Departmnet of Education and Training said: ‘The SOL identifies occupations that would benefit from skilled migration for the purpose of meeting the medium to long-term skill needs of the Australian economy.
‘Following each review, there are a number of occupations which are “flagged” for possible removal in the future. Generally, occupations are flagged when there is emerging evidence of excess supply in the labour market.’
Earlier this year Pulse reported that applications to the GMC for a Certificate of Current Professional Status – necessary for UK trained doctors to work abroad – had rocketed following Mr Hunt’s pledge to push through seven day working.
In all, 298 applications were received on 11 February, and 106 the day after, after the health secretary told Parliament he had ‘decided to proceed’ with redefining Saturdays and weekday evenings as regular working hours.
This compared to 261 applications in the ten days prior to the announcement.
Despite calls, GPs are not included on the UK’s shortage occupation list to boost from overseas despite an ongoing workforce crisis and last month Jeremy Hunt opted for a new strategy to prevent junior doctors heading overseas.
He told the Conservative Party Conference they would be chained to the NHS for four years after training, or be forced to pay back their costs, as part of a drive to make the NHS ‘self-sufficient’ in doctors.