For the last two decades, it’s been no secret to British professionals that there is more money to be made outside the country – up to 25% more, in fact. For general practitioners in the UK, this has meant packing up and shipping to Australia, leaving England’s National Health Service (NHS) scrambling to handle a shortage of medical professionals in the country – but, there could be a simpler long-term solution to consider.
With an estimated shortfall of 1000 doctors forcing the Health Service to come up with a fast and effective solution, many Britons are wondering: why not just offer more money to stay? While it might seem like a no-brainer, apparently it hasn’t yet occurred to the NHS who are now offering an educational incentive for returning physicians instead.
General practitioners who return to take advantage of the programme will be given free retraining at Keele University to start or return to a practice in the UK, and will be expected to spend only one day per week in a classroom. Still, skeptics are unsure as to whether or not this scheme will stop doctors from moving to Australia in the first place.
Although there has been a great deal of interest in the program according to the NHS, there has been similar interest in campaigns geared towards other European demographics with no actual improvement. Despite being happy to consider working in or relocating to the UK to practice medicine, many of the applicants from outside the country didn’t have the working knowledge or English skills to succeed in practice.
To combat this, many believe the NHS needs to step up the incentive package to include long-term investments in training and retaining domestic practitioners. It’s been suggested that free or discounted tuition for medical students, who successfully complete their training and who sign a domestic term agreement for 7 years or longer, would help
Regardless of whether this idea is implemented or not, the fact remains that relocating to Australia means more money, and nearly 1500 doctors travel to Australia each year for this reason. With fewer and fewer similarly skilled immigrants to replace them, and only 23% of the Health Department’s 5000 applicants planning a career in general practice in 2015, (6.2% less than 2014), it seems that the almighty dollar – or in this case, the pound – will still be the deciding factor.