FROM a higher salary to a house with a pool and barbecues in the sun, Sean McEvoy has no regrets after swapping a career as a nurse in Perth Scotland for Perth Australia.

The 36-year-old said he would recommend life Down Under to anyone as one of Australia’s largest healthcare employers brings its recruitment drive to Glasgow today.

St John of God Health Care (SJGHC), a not-for-profit provider which operates 17 mostly private hospitals in Australia, is aiming to hire around 200 staff - including nurses and physiotherapists - from across the UK and Ireland.

HeraldScotland: Source: St John of God Health Care, AustraliaSource: St John of God Health Care, Australia (Image: SJOG)

They have already received 167 applications from Scotland-based NHS workers, with around 30 interviews expected to take place today. Successful candidates could be offered jobs on the spot with up to AUS$10,000 (£5,500) in relocation funding available to make the move within months.

Mr McEvoy emigrated in 2013 with his wife, who is also a nurse. They are now permanent citizens with three children born and bred in Australia.

“Australia has a great lifestyle and quality of life for any Scot looking to make the move,” said Mr McEvoy, who is now a clinical nurse manager and currently on secondment as the acting deputy director of nursing at St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital.

“The weather in Western Australia is one of the best in the world and is well suited for families, with lots of opportunities to take part in outdoor activities. It offers a laid-back culture.

“One of our dreams was to own a house with a pool which is now a reality.”

READ MORE: Doctors quitting NHS for better-paid jobs overseas and in finance, warns medical leader

Mr McEvoy was also attracted by Australia's more competitive salaries, lower staff to patient ratios, and attractive opportunities for career progression.

He said: “My own experience of this was commencing as a casual registered nurse within a private hospital and becoming the Director of Nursing within seven years, which would simply not have been possible in the UK.

“Australia has the work-life balance and attitude that you work to live, not live to work, as I felt in the UK. We are the happiest we have ever been since making the move and would never look to return to Scotland to live.”

The average salary for a registered nurse in Australia is equivalent to around £61,600, compared to £47,300 in the UK. Doctors can also expect to earn around £40,000 more per year.

HeraldScotland: Source: St John of God Health Care Source: St John of God Health Care (Image: SJ)

Its hybrid public-private healthcare system, where higher earners are incentivised to through tax concessions to take out insurance, boasts more nurses, doctors, beds, CT and MRI scanners per head than the UK.

However, closed borders during the pandemic cut Australia off from its traditional supply of foreign workers, with its nursing vacancies also exacerbated as existing staff quit or cut their hours amid the stress of Covid.

Now able to recruit again, Dani Meinema, SJGHC's director for nursing & patient experience, said they are seeing increased demand - particularly from Indian, Filipino or African nurses in the NHS whose plans had been disrupted by Covid.

READ MORE: Pandemic has 'not adversely affected' cancer mortality 

It comes amid fears that an exodus overseas could leave the NHS even more fragile, at a time when nearly 10% of nursing and midwifery posts in Scotland are already vacant.

Ms Meinema cautions that the effect "probably feels exaggerated" after a two-year pause, adding: "When we’re in the UK, a large majority of those that we’ve interviewed and who are seeking to come to Australia are either Indian or Filipino or African background and really that’s always been their plan, to get to Australia, but they come via the UK first.

“It seems magnified now because we haven’t been able to do it for the last couple of years."

HeraldScotland: Although its borders closed, stringent lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus have also left Australia facing elective care backlogs and delayed diagnoses (PA)Although its borders closed, stringent lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus have also left Australia facing elective care backlogs and delayed diagnoses (PA) (Image: PA)

She also stresses that while less impacted than the NHS, Australia's healthcare system is still facing its own challenges from Covid.

"Even though we didn’t have huge numbers of Covid cases per se compared to [the UK] we still saw a lot of restriction of surgical activity, I guess around preparedness - ‘just in case’.

"We still did have lockdowns and significant reductions in elective surgery, and we’ve had an increase in delayed diagnosis as well.

"We've definitely got long-term effects in terms of waiting lists. Some of our private hospitals are even taking on work for the public hospitals to help them get through the backlog.

"Our nursing workforce are pretty tired and exhausted.

"One of the things our organisation is focused on just as much as recruitment is retaining the workforce we’ve got and how to we support them and keep them going. That's a real challenge."