Placing mobile billboards on picket lines and hunting down disgruntled NHS staff directly on social media — they’re just two brazen tactics Australia has deployed to bolster its own healthcare workforce by luring Brits Down Under.
Some have criticised the ‘unconscionable raid’ as ethically questionable given the pressures the NHS is facing and how blows to staffing will impact patients.
Speaking on Australian national radio, last week South Australia’s health minister Chris Picton said: ‘Not only are we replying to tweets but we’ve also, overnight, had some trucks out with electronic billboards outside their protests and their picket lines outside hospitals.
‘A few weeks ago, a number of our junior doctors who work in SA Health came to me.
‘[They] really enjoy working here and want to see more people from the UK make the trip here and suggested we step up our game in terms of these more cheeky tactics.’
The ad campaign run by the South Australian Government which visited the British Medical Association picket lines at St George’s Hospital in London last week
He has also defended the tactics, stating: ‘If the UK Government wants to, you know, match what we’re doing, well, they can do that.
‘But at the moment it looks like the UK Government is completely standoffish to their own medical workforce and refusing to even meet them.’
Mobile billboards featuring tantalizing images of crystal-clear waters and stunning hikes were deployed outside St George’s Hospital in London during a junior doctors strike earlier this month.
‘Take your health career to South Australia and work-life balance at its best. We can help with relocation costs,’ the ad read.
The ads were seen by dozens of medics from the British Medical Association (BMA), who were on the picket in the latest walkout over NHS pay.
It featured 50/50 images of medics enjoying the Australian lifestyle and working in a hospital with the captions ‘For Work. For Lifestyle’.
A link and QR code on the billboard send interested medics to a recruitment page run by the South Australian Government, where they can enter provide their details to apply for jobs.
The ads featured 50/50 images of medics balancing work with amazing pictures of the Aussie lifestyle with text saying ‘discover work-life balance at its best’ and offering financial assistance to relocate
The South Australian Government — which offers one-off cash payments of up to £8,000 to help medics relocate — is also trawling through Twitter to find anyone who’s complained about their NHS jobs or the UK cost of living.
They then reply with a glossy video advert featuring starry skies, surfing and wine-tasting intermixed with images of medics working in a hospital.
One tweet by Cam Ypr, a psychiatry trainee in Yorkshire, read: ‘Junior doctor strikes round 3. Strong Sheffield public support and sun is out.’
SA Health, South Australia’s NHS equivalent replied: ‘Consider taking your medical career to South Australia and discover work-life balance at its best. We can help with relocation costs of up to AUD $15,000 (£8,000) to make the move.’
This reply was accompanied with their recruitment video and a link to apply for jobs as well as urging medics to get in touch with SA Health ‘talent acquisition’ team.
Harpreet Kaur, a surgeon in South Yorkshire was also targeted with SA Health after posting: ‘Passionate about surgery, but each #JuniorDoctorsStrike just reminds me of how badly we need change and #PayRestoration’.
Ms Kaur even responded to the SA Health ad with: ‘Thank you. Shall take this into consideration.’
Some of the tweets the Aussies targeted were even quite old.
MailOnline found SA Health posted their recruitment video to some posts from June 2022 in an attempt to convince medics to head to Adelaide.
South Australia is also running a targeted social media campaign looking for British medics complaining about pay online and posting this glossy ad which features images of both working surfing alongside an offer of up to £8,000 to help with relocation costs
One tweet by Cam Ypr, a psychiatry trainee in Yorkshire was picked up by the SA Health social media trawl
Even tweets medics wrote in June last year were in the Aussies’ sights, like this example by a doctor going by the username ‘Noodles’
One medic Tweeting under the name ‘Noodles’ wrote last year: ‘If you’re wondering why doctors are considering strike action, I’ve worked full time for two years.
‘My pay this month is £1700. I have a job where I am responsible for your life. You do not want me worrying about how I’m going to pay for my petrol when you’re septic at 4am.’
To which SA Health replied urging them to apply to come work with them.
Shockingly, both ad campaigns were not wholly an Australian scheme but had been requested by UK medics who already made the move Down Under.