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Getting difficult to call Australia home

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Disillusioned National Health Service doctors have been warned that they may find it difficult to get work in Australia.

Dr John Zorbas, Chair of the AMA Council of Doctors in Training, told the Financial Times that Australia’s long-standing reliance on overseas trained doctors to fill gaps in the medical workforce was waning.

Dr Zorbas said the although international medical graduates (IMGs) from around the world, including the United Kingdom, had made a “critical” contribution to the medical workforce in the last 15 years, demand was easing as an increasing number of locally trained doctors were graduating.

“IMGs looking to come to Australia need to know that job opportunities are limited, often confined to short-term roles or areas of medical workforce shortage like rural locations,” he said.

In the past 12 years the number of medical school graduates has more than doubled from 1500 to 3700 a year, creating intense pressure for advanced specialist training places.

As a result, the Government is considering removing a number of specialties from the Skilled Occupations List used to assess applications for permanent residency, including general practitioners, anaesthetists, intensive care specialists, gastroenterologists and obstetricians.

“We do not expect that this will have a big impact as there will still be other visa options available,” Dr Zorbas said. “However, it is the first sign that we are overcoming medical workforce shortages and are less reliant on international recruitment.”

He said data showed overall doctor numbers in Australia were “in balance”, even though they were not evenly distributed by location or specialty.

Adrian Rollins