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Australia plans to tighten visa conditions for UK doctors

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5949 (Published 03 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5949
  1. Tom Moberly
  1. The BMJ

Australia’s government has announced plans to restrict applications for working visas from doctors from the United Kingdom and other countries.

Ministers have included nine medical specialties in the list of occupations that they want considered for removal from the country’s list of skilled occupations. The list is used to identify roles where skilled migrants would bring benefits to the Australian economy.

Commenting on the decision, Michael Gannon, president of the Australia Medical Association, said that there continued to be anecdotal evidence that UK junior doctors’ interest in working in Australia remained high. He said that in recent years overseas doctors had been finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs in Australia. “Australia has expanded its pool of locally trained doctors, with 3700 medical school graduates expected this year, compared with 1500 in 2004,” he said.

“Competition for postgraduate training places and service roles is intense, and the former Health Workforce Australia predicted that by 2018 Australia will have a shortage of 569 first year advanced specialist training places.”

Gannon said that other visa options would remain open to overseas doctors wanting to work in Australia. But he said that the plan to remove medical specialties from the skilled occupation list was “the first sign that we are overcoming medical workforce shortages and are less reliant on international recruitment.”

The nine specialist categories flagged for removal from the skilled occupation list are anaesthetists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, GPs, intensive care specialists, medical practitioners not elsewhere classified, obstetricians and gynaecologists, and paediatricians

A government spokesman said that the decision to indicate a range of medical occupations for additional scrutiny in the review of the 2017-18 skilled occupation list was based on advice received from the Department of Education and Training.

The spokesman added that flagging an occupation did not necessarily mean that it would be removed in the next review. Whether an occupation is removed or retained in the next review is determined by the Department of Education and Training after consideration of the submissions, data, and evidence provided, he said.

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