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Joan - GP, Christchurch

Hello there! I’m Joan, a GP who left the UK and arrived in NZ in September 2016.

I started the process of applying to come to NZ in December 2015. The easiest part of the process was getting the job with a 24 Hour Surgery after a successful Skype interview, and the hardest part was filling in all the application forms in the correct order! The most difficult form was for the New Zealand Medical Protection Society. Accent Health Recruitment were so valuable in helping and advising me through the process.

My first impressions of NZ were how warm and welcoming everyone is and also how all the different nationalities live together without seemingly any racial tension.

The best parts of NZ are the beautiful and amazing scenery, the “can do” attitude of the kiwi population and the relaxed lifestyle.  Traveling into the countryside is easy and very varied and under populated. Eating lots of NZ fish which can be bought cheaply is also great!

I mostly miss family and friends (but many are coming to visit), old buildings and shopping in local small shops rather than “malls”.  We are still delighted by the style of many of the houses in Christchurch and their lovely gardens. (Some central heating would also be nice though).

My advice if you are coming to NZ is - get fit, so that you can enjoy all the outside activities - you will be astounded at the beauty of the country. With the fall in value of the pound, be prepared that the cost of living here is similar to UK. It’s a good time to be paid in NZ dollars.


The major difference between my role as a GP in the UK and now, is that in NZ often some payment is made for medical services. In many ways this is good as it makes patients value the service offered, but it does sometimes add a different dimension to the consultation. A longer time is allowed for each consultation which enables a better understanding of the patients’ conditions. Most patients are very stoical and grateful for a consultation with a doctor.

There is predominantly only one IT system which GPs use – this links with the local hospital enabling all referrals to be sent electronically. All x-rays that are requested by GPs  are reported within 30 minutes which is an amazing service! Patients have the choice of health providers and this has taken some time to understand. There are enough similarities in the medical conditions for a doctor from the UK to be able to work here without major difficulties once they understand the systems.


With the common English language, it has mostly been easy to understand patients’ symptoms but at times the kiwi accent and local idioms have been interesting and a slight challenge. Overall, there are many advantages that the NZ Health Care system has over the NHS in UK - with more highly valued and contented medical and nursing teams. It is very refreshing to work in this environment.

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