Why Labour believes Australia has the answer to fixing the NHS

Wes Streeting wants to turn healthcare on its head.

To that end, the shadow health secretary has flown more than 10,000 miles, embarking on a whirlwind tour of Australian healthcare to see what lessons the UK can learn.

The case couldn’t be more urgent. For one thing – as Mr Streeting jocularly points out, to his Australian health officials – “you keep nicking all our doctors”.

It’s not a claim they can deny. The brain drain of UK medics to Australia has only intensified in recent years.

As Mr Streeting visits health facilities and meets officials across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, British accents ring out at every turn, with tales of deserting Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and west London for a better life Down Under.

There has long been a pattern of young British medics seeking to spend a few years in Australia, with some putting down roots.

But it is absolutely clear that the exodus has increased in recent years.

At every visit, medics tell how they are increasingly being lured not just by a lifestyle of sea, surf and sand, but by the promise of lucrative work, under less punishing working conditions in a health system which is not buckling under the strain.

Mr Streeting is in Sydney, on a visit to Maroubra Medicare Urgent Care Clinic.

The unassuming health centre, in a suburb of the city, is one of 38 which the Labor government has opened since being elected to office in May last year, with plans for 20 more by the end of this year.


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