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Jim Wells admits brain drain as newly qualified medics head for Australia

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

More than 250 of Northern Ireland's recently qualified GPs are working abroad, the Health Minister has revealed.

Jim Wells also told the Assembly many of the graduates were unlikely to return because they were enjoying better pay, conditions and career progression in countries like Australia and Canada.

He said: "We don't have an awful lot of evidence of many of these doctors coming back.

"Maybe it's the sun; maybe it's the social life; maybe it's the wonderful scenery but an awful lot of these young people are not returning; they are settling down in Australia and they are staying."

The revelation comes as the Royal College of GPs launched its first ever national recruitment video aimed at tackling stereotypes that general practice medicine is less stimulating and exciting than other specialisms.

The Assembly also heard that GPs here carry out more consultations than anywhere else in the UK or Ireland. During 2012/13 there were 12.4 million consultations - the equivalent of 6.9 a year for every person - and a rise on the 10.2 million in 2008/09. In England, GPs carry out an average of 3.4 a year per patient.

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