We left the NHS for Australia, but it's not what was promised

We left the NHS after being sold the Australian dream – here’s why it’s NOT the fairytale promised

  • Junior doctors say Australia is only ‘marginally’ better than working for the NHS 
  • Doctors who moved have been left ‘isolated’ and struggling with the culture shift

Working as a doctor in Australia is not all sun and games, warn British medics who have taken the plunge.

UK healthcare workers lured Down Under say promises of sunnier weather, bigger pay packets, and a better work-life balance isn’t quite true.

Instead of beaches and bush hikes, medics claimed it was ‘serious’ and still a ‘full time job’ and not a dream ‘holiday’, like some adverts have suggested.

Writing on the social media site Reddit anonymously, junior doctors who made the leap confessed they didn’t expect the transition to be ‘such a mixed bag’. 

They also claimed they were drawn in by glossy social media ‘highlight reels’ from British medics who’d already moved touting the Australian lifestyle.

Dr Michael Mrozinski (pictured), 37, says he ‘felt burnt out after working in the NHS for seven years’ and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2016.

One medic, who now claims to work at a hospital in Brisbane said: ‘The stories of greener pastures in the land Down Under, where the sun is always shining, and pay is significantly higher were too to good to turn down. 

‘I’ve now spent four months here and, whilst I always knew that I will be working a full time job and not going on holiday, I was not expecting my journey here to be such a mixed bag.’

They had come to the conclusion that working in Australia is only ‘marginally better’ than the UK and not ‘leap years ahead’. 

Having now spent four months in Australia, they said: ‘It just has a lot more money and a significantly smaller population. 

‘I also understand no one wants to hear this but coming here has genuinely made me appreciate the NHS more.

READ MORE: Inside the Great Australian exodus crippling our NHS: Record numbers of disgruntled doctors and nurses are looking to desert the ailing health service for £100k jobs down under – and Dubai could be next

‘We are not far off in terms of quality of care given to patients, and all it needs is the money it deserves and the pay raise that all the health care staff deserve.

‘I’m not trying to discourage people from coming here but just trying to help people have level headed expectations. Living in Australia is class, working here is not that great.’

Other junior doctors have also confessed Australia isn’t as great as they expected, or had hoped.

Another junior doctor who worked in an emergency department said: ‘I appreciate that it might be great for some people, but it absolutely was not for me.

‘With that said, Australia is a beautiful, spectacular and vast country with loads to see and do. The people are open and friendly. They speak plainly and honestly, instead of in code and passive-aggressively, like they do in the UK.

‘There are wonderful things about Australia, it just wasn’t for me in the end.’

Some junior doctors who moved down under for the famous laidback Aussie culture have also been taken back by their ‘serious’ work ethics. 

One said: ‘Aussies are very nice but very serious at work. Not much going for coffees or lunch together.’

The junior doctor argues that some people love it in Australia because they treat it as a break and not a time to do exams or work.  

Another ‘NHS refugee’ junior doctor that moved to Australia in search of better pay and work/life balance also admitted it hasn’t lived up to their expectations. 

The junior doctor said they have started to ‘get cold feet’ just one month after moving to other side of the planet.

They wrote: ‘I essentially have started getting cold feet about my decision to train out here/stay long term, due to a number of things including family members becoming unwell and fully realising the impact of being on the other side of the world when s*** hits the fan’.

Other junior doctors have also described how they found it hard to break into Australian culture. 

One medic, who has now moved back to the UK, said: ‘The people were friendly and pleasant but had zero interest in including me or other UK doctors in any social activity.’

Aoibhín (pictured) has been a doctor for three years – graduating in April 2020 from Queens University, Belfast, where she studied medicine – and worked on the frontline during the Covid pandemic

Popular YouTuber Dr Nora (pictured) moved from London to the Gold Coast in 2017 and has never looked back, but admits it’s not for everyone

‘It was depressing. I made good friends with other UK doctors but to be honest I’m not really in touch with any local doctors at all, not for lack of trying.’

They also highlight that it is ‘the luck of the draw’ where in Australia you end up as if you are not in a city you could end up feeling isolated. 

They said: ‘Australia is really really far from everything else, and most Australian cities are really isolated. 

‘Flying back takes an eternity and I got very good at subtracting 9-10-11 hours from most times of the day. 

‘I guess once you settle there, you get used to it, but I never did. I just felt really sad and isolated the whole time.’ 

READ MORE: The ‘cheeky’ tactics Australia is using to pinch NHS staff: From advertising billboards placed ON picket lines to trawling through year-old tweets to tempt medics down under 

The ad campaign run by the South Australian Government which visited the British Medical Association picket lines at St George’s Hospital in London last week

However, not everyone who made the move is disappointed. 

For some doctors moving has made them realise just how accustomed they had become ‘to working in a resource-poor environment where a lower standard of care is accepted’.

One said: ‘When I first moved to Aus I laughed at how often they would CT things that would never have been scanned in the UK. 

‘Eventually [I] realised that we had just been justifying not scanning things in the UK due to no scanner availability rather than good clinical reasoning.’

For them, the move to Australia only made staffing and funding problems in the NHS more apparent. 

They said: ‘Coming to that conclusion took a while. I didn’t want to admit that UK medical practice was so tangibly poorer. I attribute this to the staffing and resources available, not laziness or incompetence of the staff that are there.

‘I would be happy for my family to attend an Australian ED. I would pray they are able to avoid a UK ED.’ 

As the messages were made anonymously there is no way to verify the experiences described. 

But British another medic who took the plunge, Dr Drew, who did not wish to give his surname, independently told MailOnline that Australia is selling UK health professionals a ‘fairy tale’ that is simply ‘not the reality’. 

He said: ‘It’s fairy tale… ”go over it will be the life of your dreams… You’ll be sitting on a beach sipping piña colada”… It’s not the reality.’

Another UK medic, popular YouTuber Dr Nora, moved from London to the Gold Coast in 2017 and has never looked back, but she admits it’s not for everyone.

The GP and cosmetic doctor, who has almost 25,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, worked for the NHS for five years.

Responding to Dr Drew’s criticisms, she told MailOnline: ‘These are valid concerns, not including all the different billing codes of Medicare to learn and developing a reputation for yourself as an independent contractor.

‘It just depends on your mentality going in, if you’re looking for safety, the NHS is a great place to be a part of.

Interest in life Down Under has peaked for nurses and midwives in the most recent financial year, with some 4,000 applications made 

While doctors are lagging behind unions say 2023 could be a bumper year for disenfranchised medics to be lured to Australia thanks to ‘cheeky’ recruitment tactics 

Australian figures suggest roughly half of UK medics who apply for a job in Australia are successful, with nearly 950 getting in 2021-22 compared to the 1,800 who applied in the 2022 calendar year

‘If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, then it’s another great opportunity open out there for you to explore.’

For Dr Aoibhín Bradley, 27, who turned her back on the NHS for the Gold Coast, in Queensland in September 2022, the move has been well worth it.

She recalled how in the UK she struggled with long shifts, sometimes even working three hours past her end time.

Dr Bradley took home £2,100 a month in the UK, based on a 48.5-hour week, but now she earns $6,000 AUSD a month – £3,202.53 – for a 36-hour a week.

She previously told MailOnline: ‘You’re working to live – not living to work. Australia is more expensive but I’m still making multiple times more than what I was making at home.

‘At home, you did so many extra hours that your life consisted of working. I lived in Northern Ireland and there wasn’t anything to do in my spare time.

‘I was so tired – I didn’t have the energy to do much. In Australia, pay-wise it’s incredible. You get paid per hour that you work. It blew my mind.’

Another one is Dr Michael Mrozinski, 37, who said he ‘felt burnt out after working in the NHS for seven years’ before he moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2016. 

‘I felt burnt out after working in the NHS for seven years… in Australia, management listen to my concerns and ideas for better patient care, whereas in the UK they couldn’t care less about any ideas I had.’ 

He added: ‘The main difference is I enjoy my job because the work environment is fantastic, the hospitals are well staffed and they are relieving doctors if wards are short.

‘This makes for more people to share the workloads, instead of less people and more work, like in the UK. With more staff, means there is more teaching and helps doctors develop even further.’

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