One of the issues which keeps coming up with regards to recent NHS pay disputes is that Junior Doctors are able to seek better pay and conditions outside of the NHS, whether through leaving healthcare completely or by moving to another country where pay and conditions are better. I understand that over 10000 medics have reportedly left the NHS seeking better terms abroad. Australia appears to be a primary destination.
So, what do the numbers look like? Well, F1 Junior doctors (in the first year of employment) begin on £29,384, this is where the £14/hour figure comes from. There are payments for unsociable working hours on top of this. Pay goes up to £34,012 in year 2, then £40,257 and £51, 017 (when the doctor is likely to be around 28-30 years of age).
How does this compare with Australia? Well, the reported average salary for an Australian Junior Doctor is $70,325 which equates to £38,101. Meanwhile, a consultant in the UK can reportedly earn £88,000 to £119,000 with significant bonuses on top. In Australia, a doctors’ average salary is $150k or £80k with the most experienced doctors earning the equivalent of £130k.
All in all, I have to say, that unless I’m missing something, whilst pay may be a bit better for some if they move to Australia, it isn’t that great a difference, particularly when you consider the whole of the doctor’s career.
However, we don’t just look at salary, or even pay and conditions in isolation. When people make big decisions such as emigrating to work, they also think about things like cost of living and standard of living. I would gently suggest that the standard of living and general quality of life is considered significantly better in Australia,
However, it is also worth noting that it has always been the case that living conditions have been considered better in this or that country. Some people will therefore seek to move to the UK for a better way of life, just as others will chose to leave.
What may be a bigger concern is that a major reason given by doctors for leaving the NHS to work abroad is disillusionment with the system itself. That may well be a bigger factor.