General Medical Council (GMC) research commissioned to understand doctors’ decisions to leave the UK to practise overseas.

The research served to understand the decision-making processes of doctors leaving the UK workforce to practise medicine overseas.


key findings

  • Burnt-out GPs: while many doctors in our study mentioned experiencing burnout, there were some specific issues in primary care driving GPs to migrate. 
  • Career-limited doctors: international mid-career doctors who felt that they had exhausted all possible career opportunities in the UK. 
  • Disheartened EU and international doctors: doctors in their mid-career, often with young families, who recounted negative experiences at work, directly or indirectly, in relation to their identity as a foreign national living and working in the UK. 
  • Disillusioned doctors: mostly UK-trained doctors in their mid to late career who were driven to migrate due to frustrations with the health system in the UK.
  • Internationally mobile doctors: consultants in their mid-career who had plenty of previous experience abroad, working in different countries whenever the opportunity allowed or when administrative or visa issues determined. 
  • Older explorers: older doctors who had spent most of their career working within the NHS, seeking adventure, a new professional experience or a challenge. 
  • Salary seekers: typically made up of men in their 40s who had come to a point within their career when they realised that their current salary and future salary prospects were not sufficient to sustain the quality of life they desired. 
  • Young explorers: this group was made up of early-career, UK-trained doctors who typically had travel in mind from medical school, seeking fun and adventure.
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