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Australian Health Department plots to stop foreign doctors from migrating to Australia

Australian Health Department plots to stop foreign doctors from migrating to Australia

An article in The Australian today has reported that the Health Department submitted an unpublished submission to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that recommended for 41 health occupations to be removed from the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).

Overseas-trained medical practitioners would no longer be granted visas to work in Australia, under a contentious proposal from the Health Department that heralds the end of the nation’s shortage of locally trained doctors.

“Visa plan to stop foreign doctor influx”, Sean Parnell, Health Editor, The Australian, 9 August 2016

Among these 41 health occupations are:

- General Practitioners
- Anaesthetists
- Cardiologists
- Paediatricians
- Psychiatrists
- Surgeons, General or Specialists
and others.

While the recommendations were not accepted by the Australian government before the Australian general elections, it is reported that the recommendations might be reconsidered in the next few months. Suggestions by the Health Department earlier in the year resulted in the removal of the following from the SOL:

- Dental Hygienist (ANZSCO 411211)
- Dental Prosthetist (ANZSCO 411212)
- Dental Technician (ANZSCO 411213)
- Dental Therapist (ANZSCO 411214)

The article also reported that at the end of March 2016 there were 2155 General Practitioners and 1562 Resident Medical Officers who were holding visas in Australia (implying they are non-citizen arrivals who are working in the health industry). They were followed by Occupational Health and Safety Advisers at 130 visa holders and Psychiatrists at 100 visa holders.




Comments by Chris Johnston – Principal Lawyer and Registered Migration Agent at Work Visa Lawyers

The SOL is a list of occupations that are suitable for applying the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa under the General Skilled Migration programme. The removal of the 41 health occupations mentioned above will mean that overseas health professionals will need to seek state, territory or employer sponsorship to move and work in Australia. The removal of the occupations from the SOL list will not completely stop health professional from moving to Australia, unless the occupations are also removed from the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL).

While the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Rural Doctors Association (RDA) argue that there are many Australian medical graduates who cannot find a position in the Australian health system, there are strong arguments that overseas trained medical professionals are required to provide basic health services to a growing and ageing population, especially in the regional areas of Australia.

The removal of health professionals from the SOL will also create setbacks in the plans of many small to medium private medical practices. Many of these medical practices are unable to find an Australian medical professional to fill positions because of the location of the medical practice. Skilled Independent visa applicants from overseas are one group of health professionals that can help fill in the shortage in such areas, providing necessary health care to local Australian residents.

This news has been discussed among Registered Migration Agents and it was reported that a general practitioner from New Zealand has received a letter stating Medicare will stop issuing Medicare provider numbers to overseas trained medical practitioners in 2 years time because there are too many local medical graduates. This would be a major disincentive for medical practitioners who migrated to Australia from overseas.

This information is accurate on 9 August 2016

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