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Are Nurses better off in the UK or Australia?

03rd May, 2018

Are Nurses better off in the UK or Australia?

If you're a nurse, you'll probably be used to hearing and reading plenty of negativity surrounding your profession. Patient demand continues to increase and the stress levels of nurses and only steps behind, rising year on year. It's no wonder so many people start lusting after a career in a new country, where they're promised better pay, more flexibility and adventures beyond their wildest dreams.

For people in the UK, Australia is considered the ultimate destination for a new start - it's got everything! Sun, sandy beaches, friendly people, adorable wildlife (not including the giant spiders, thank you very much!), a huge country to explore and a great healthcare system. Plus, everyone speaks English!

For Australians, the UK is a welcome change and provides all the fun of Great Britain, including (but not limited to): The Queen, a cracking curry, awesome nightlife, really old pubs, very polite people, heaps of history, pop-up everything, great music and, of course, the NHS.

But the real question here is: which country is actually better for nurses?

Okay, let's explore that...

1. Medicare vs. the NHS

We recently published an in-depth comparison of Medicare and the NHS, but here's a summary. The NHS is the UK's National Health Service and provides free healthcare at the point of use for all of its citizens. The NHS is ranked the number one healthcare system in the world and is predominantly paid for by taxation. 

Medicare is Australia's universal national healthcare system and comes in at a close second for ranked healthcare systems around the world. Medicare is also predominantly publicly funded and gives Australian citizens access to subsidised medical treatments.

Is the NHS better than Medicare? Medicare or NHS? NHS Medicare

2. How many nurses are there in each country?

Despite being ranked the number 1 healthcare system in the world, there are points where the UK's NHS falls short of what Australian healthcare can provide. The UK's nurse to patient ratio stands quite disappointingly at 1:8 (one nurse for every eight patients), while Australia is working to half of that with a ratio of 1:4 (one nurse for every four patients). 

If we take a look at nurses per capita, Australia takes the crown with 1.59 per 100. The UK once again falls short with only 1.05 per 100.

3. Who is further ahead in terms of professional development?

When it comes to educating nurses, Australia once again takes a small lead over the UK. The land down under has been educating its nurses at a university level since the 1990s, a standard that the UK didn't adopt until after the turn of the Millenium.

The same can be said for Continued Professional Development. The UK introduced mandatory CPD for nurses in 2015, only three short years ago. Australia, however, has enforced mandatory CPD since 2010.

Should you be a nurse in the UK or Australia? Which country is better?

4. Where can you earn the most money?

This will always depend on what type of nursing work you take on. Temporary work will nearly always pay more than permanent, but it won't provide most of the benefits that make permanent work so appealing, like pensions and paid vacation time. 

However, if we take a look at the average salary for a nurse in both the UK and Australia, we get a picture of what nurses can expect from a salary in each country. 

The average salary for a nurse in Australia is reported to be around $65,000 (£38,535 GBP). In the UK, the average nursing salary is £25,653 ($43,287 AUD).

Those figures are hard to argue with. It looks as though more money can be made in Australia, but band/tier, position, location, cost of living and taxation also need to be taken into account here.

5. How many male nurses are in each country?

Nursing has long been considered a predominantly female profession, but just how many male nurses are there in both Australia and the UK?

This is where the UK comes out on top (albeit marginally). With a male nursing percentage of 11.4%, the UK ranks just ahead of Australia, which has a slightly smaller percentage at 10.8%.

Is nursing better in the UK or Australia? We explore the two countries.

Tell us your thoughts!

Have you experienced a nursing role in both the UK and Australia? Which country did you prefer working in and why? What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving to the UK or Australia for their nursing career?

Comment below and share your knowledge with other nurses like you!

Info source: Ausmed