What motivates doctors to leave the UK NHS for a “life in the sun” in New Zealand; and, once there, why don’t they stay?
Human Resources for Health, January 2015
Gauld, Robin, Horsburgh, Simon
At 44%, New Zealand has the highest proportion of international medical graduates (IMGs) in its workforce amongst OECD member countries. Around half of New Zealand's IMGs come from the UK NHS, yet only around 50% stay longer than 1 year post-registration with significant costs to the New Zealand health care system. Why these doctors go to New Zealand and do not stay for long is an important question. UK-trained doctors who had gained registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand and currently practising in New Zealand were surveyed (n = 1357) on the motivation for their move to New Zealand, experiences once there and what was prompting any intentions to move away from New Zealand. Multivariate proportional odds models (POM) were used to quantify various associations. The survey had a 47% response (n = 632). Quality of life considerations motivated 96% of respondents to move to New Zealand, although 65% indicated they were pushed by a desire to leave the NHS. POM analyses revealed older respondents were significantly less likely than younger respondents to be motivated by quality of life considerations. Younger doctors were significantly more likely to be seeking to leave the NHS. Seventy-six per cent of respondents signalling an intention to leave New Zealand indicated that the desire to return to the UK was the primary reason for this. There is a long history of medical migration from the UK to New Zealand. However, the 65% of respondents in this study seeking to leave the NHS was much higher than found elsewhere, perhaps reflecting increasing workplace and funding pressures in recent years. Of concern to policy makers were the higher odds of seeking to leave the NHS motivating younger doctors. Various changes "down under", in New Zealand as well as Australia, mean their IMG markets may well be tightening up.
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