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No need to act to stop doctors emigrating to Australia, says Prime Minister

No need to act to stop doctors emigrating to Australia, says Prime Minister

Doctors leaving the NHS to work in Australia is ‘not as widespread’ as people assume and a mandatory tie-in is therefore not necessary, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

Announcing the long-awaited workforce plan on Friday, Mr Sunak was asked whether there should be some mandatory element after training in order to address the ‘thousands of doctors’ who are ‘fleeing to Australia’. 

He said that when he and the health secretary heard reports of this, they were both ‘concerned’, but once they looked at the data they found that around ‘95% of people […] after they completed their foundation training were still working in the NHS’. 

As such, the Government did not believe that a mandatory tie-in for doctors was the ‘right approach’, however this is currently being considered for dentistry, according to Mr Sunak.

The long term workforce plan pledged £2.4bn of Government investment in order to double medical school places and increase GP training places by 50% by 2031

Despite ‘retain’ being one of the three pillars of the plan, GP leaders have called the Government and NHS England out on their lack of plans to retain existing GPs.

Over 700 GPs left the NHS to work overseas between 2015 and 2020, according to GMC data.

When asked about doctors moving abroad, the Prime Minister said: ‘Look I read all those reports as well and I was concerned, the health secretary was concerned, and we sat down and we went through it all together, actually. 

‘We just went and looked through the data, and the data shows that it is not as widespread a practice as I think people assume it is.’

He added: ‘So the scale of what is happening is not at the level that people commonly assume it is, and for that reason we didn’t think it was the right approach. 

‘But as I said, if we think there is an issue we are prepared to take action, and you’re seeing that with dentistry we’re contemplating whether it does make sense to introduce the tie.’ 

Earlier this year, an Australian minister launched a campaign to ‘steal’ UK doctors and other public sector workers by highlighting better pay and lower cost of living.

A third of junior doctors are planning to work abroad this year, with Australia being the top choice of destination, according to a BMA survey published in December 2022.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Sally Anderson 3 July, 2023 1:01 pm

So who should we beleive ?

win win 3 July, 2023 3:31 pm

A lot more are abroad but keep their registration going with the GMC, one need to look at the data for Cert good standing data. Tie is not going to work anyway, furthermore how are you going to tie in the IMGs?

David Church 3 July, 2023 4:19 pm

There already is a tie-in for foundation training periods, and essentially an apprenticeship relation for basic and further specialist training (including GPs) where doctors ‘serve’ their duration whilst training.
And that period has been paid at increasingly ‘cheap’ rates for last 10 years; plus it was double from 1 year PRHO to 2 years of F1/F2 ‘service’ a few years ago.
And students now pay fees for medical school, so it is no longer appropriate to have a tie-in afterwards, as they are some of the few university students who ever repay their student loans.
Many IMGs, furthermore, actually have a tie-in duty period back in their home country after graduating from training in UK, so there would be conflict if they were tied in here as well. But also, they have served their debt as apprentices in training by the time they have completed training over here anyway.
The tie-in already exists, and has been grown to excessive over recent years. Increase it any more, and student numbers may fall.
Not that student numbers can be simply increased overnight as they seem to think anyway. If you change GP training from 1 year in GP and 2 in hospital, to 3 years in GP only; then this will
a) severely exacerbate hospital staff shortages and waiting lists; and
b) necessitate an increase of 200 % in GP training places – a figure which has been contracting last few years, I think??
If you increase F1 GP placements and medical student placements as well, you would need an increase of about 400% in GP training placements and gP Trainers ! Is that likely at the moment??

Jamal Hussain 8 July, 2023 4:54 am

The UK is under the jurisdiction of the ECHR. Mandatory tie-in or modern day slavery wouldn’t hold up in the ECHR. End of discussion. The rest of it is political window dressing with selective facts at points in time that are less unfavourable to the government.

David jenkins 8 July, 2023 11:00 am

data shows that it is not as widespread a practice as I think people assume it is.’


it’s a big jump from “he’s got weapons of mass destruction”…. to……”if we have enough time and enough people pulling iraq completely to bits, i think we might find that he might have been thinking “how can i make weapons on mass destruction””

all smoke and mirrors – not enough data, and our leader comes out with a statement – which therefore becomes a fact.


a S 27 October, 2023 7:44 pm

The reality is they don’t need to act. With other health care proffesionallys doing much of GP work there are no GP shifts left. They are taking over general prctise and there are far to many GP’s for the amout of paid work GP avalible. There is no shortage of GP’s just a shortage of money to employ them.

A E 19 April, 2024 9:34 am

G’Day Rishi!