The healthcare system in the UK and Australia is excellent, with each region being renowned for its medical services. Whether nursing professionals find one better depends on their specific needs and particular circumstances, plus personal preferences.
Let’s look at each individually to see the similarities and differences to enable a more educated and informed decision.
The healthcare system in the UK is a public system referred to as the “National Health Service” or, more commonly, “NHS.” This is a free system for anyone living in the UK, even if that’s on a temporary basis and regardless if of British descent. Visit here for the benefits of nursing in the UK.
The primary funding is provided through “National Insurance and taxation,” while less than 2 percent is patient funded through prescriptions and dental visits. British citizens don’t carry health insurance as citizens in other countries because of the vast provision made by the NHS, including:
- Hospital care
- Hospital admits
- Physician appointments
- Injury care
- Referred specialist treatments
- Sexual wellness
- Maternity care
Medicare is the reference for the healthcare system when working as a nurse in Australia. The funding is comparable to that of the NHS in the UK, with taxpayers publicly funding the system.
Individuals of a greater income level without affordable health coverage need to pay a “Medicare levy surcharge,” leading to a multitude of citizens carrying health coverage to avoid the added expense. Medicare also offers vast provisions for Australian citizens, including:
- Surgery, including some dental procedures
- Eye exams
- Physician appointments
- Hospital care
- Hospital admits
The NHS and Medicare healthcare systems are each public provisions that are taxpayer-funded. Still, these carry distinct differences worth noting for individuals unable to discern which to pursue with their nursing job or career. You can check online what International Travel Nurse is to get more details about this.
The media over the years has increasingly reported concerns over the wait times patients endure with NHS healthcare. The wait time is the duration from arrival to treatment for a patient’s concern. It can include booking a surgery, setting up a physician’s appointment, or caring for a minor injury.
At the time of the pandemic, patients withstood as long as two years before being cared for. The suggestion is that millions of patients in the UK are waiting for treatment or surgery.
In contrast, the “Australian Institute of Health and Welfare” research shows that Medicare patients will wait roughly “37 days” for non-pressing surgical procedures. While based on severity and circumstances, the consensus is that Medicare patients are seen more rapidly than the NHS.
In Australia and the UK, citizens are required to pay for prescriptions, with the NHS healthcare system expecting that patients will pay the full price point where Medicare will fund a portion of the cost.
Medicare in Australia doesn’t provide all medical services for citizens. Australians are responsible for dental visits except for some dental surgeries, and the citizen will need to cover the expense associated with ambulance rides. Due to these costs, many choose private healthcare over Medicare.
The ambulance is free in the UK, with the services covered by the NHS. Dental care is also a covered public service. The NHS offers complimentary services for individuals 18 years of age and under engaged in full-time education. This is also true for low-income citizens and pregnant or postpartum women.
Neither the NHS nor Medicare cover optometry services or products unless you’re deemed exempt, as would be true of those in the UK who are 18 and under engaged in full-time education.
A difference is Medicare will cover eye exams where the NHS does not. UK citizens must pay for eye exams and assistive devices like contacts or glasses. Most in the UK still avoid healthcare since optometry is one of only a slight few services not covered by the NHS.
Many employers offer coverage for the eye exams as part of the UK employee benefits packet, with some providing optical vouchers.
Dentistry, except for a few surgical procedures, optometry, and ambulance services, are not covered by Medicare, but the restrictions go a bit further. Some other things you’ll find are not covered include:
- Hearing aids
- At-home nursing
Depending on individual circumstances, the NHS coverage will vary, but those restrictions seen with Medicare in Australia are typically funded in the UK healthcare system.
When deciding where you want to pursue a career in nursing, the healthcare system should be something you favor. Whether you prefer the methodology used with the NHS or Medicare will weigh on the decision as to where you choose to practice your skills.
When looking at Medicare and the NHS from the outside in, the NHS provides vast free provisions for their citizens, allowing them to save from purchasing private healthcare or taking out a health plan.
The few services not seen with the NHS include optometry and dental. The suggestion is that price points for checkups are relatively reasonable. It’s curious if the accessibility is a reason for the excessive wait times in the region.
However, this is a significant concern due to the possibility of late diagnosis and the potential for a progressing illness.
While both the UK and Australia boast of offering excellent benefits with their healthcare systems, some cons come in each region as well. In overall ranking, the two are exceptionally close to call as to who would deem the ideal location for a nurse to take a career opportunity.
In healthcare, the patient experience, satisfaction, and overall care are prioritized before anything else. Nurses exude that credence. Will that mean you will go where more services are readily available to care for the patient regardless of income or healthcare, but you wait longer to be seen?
Or do you go where people move through the system faster, but fewer services exist, and citizens are more inclined to take private healthcare? That would be the conundrum.