Welcome to the ultimate guide for locum doctor in Western Australia.
Western Australia (WA) as the name suggests is the western section of the continent, occupying almost exactly a third of the landmass of the country, and is by far the biggest Australian state by geographic size.
A comprehensive guide to working as a locum Doctor in WESTERN AUSTRALIA
2.65 million square kilometres. Population wise, 2.6 million Australian residents live in WA, and the majority of those (almost 80%) are in and around the southwestern corner and Perth suburbs. This leaves about 400,000 people sparsely located across an exceptionally large space.
One of the most isolated cities in the world – with the Indian Ocean to the west and arid desert to the north and east – it’s easy to see why despite its early discovery by sea, Perth was one of the last European colonised cities on the modern Australian map. WA’s climate is a combination of Mediterranean, tropical to the north and red desert east towards the centre of the country. With one of the most biodiverse landscapes in the country. Much of WA’s wealth and prosperity comes not unsurprisingly from the land – predominately mining. But also tourism and where possible agriculture.
Rural location in Western Australia
From a health perspective, WA Health runs the public health system. And priorities broadly focus across both acute service delivery and ongoing prevention of chronic disease. Considering the size of the landmass and the remote location for those who live away from the metro hub of Perth, speed and access for emergency and chronic care are important factors. In 2017, the state undertook a comprehensive review of the health scape in order to provide a sustainable future for the health of all Western Australians. The final report was delivered in 2019. Focusing on patient-centred and high-quality insights. To mark a commitment to a healthier future through tangible health goals for the public system in WA.
Perth Metro and Western Australia Country Health Service are the two overarching sub-divisions of organisational structure for health in WA. Perth Metro is then split into North Metropolitan, South Metropolitan and East Metropolitan Health Services. Western Australia Country Health, also known as WACHs (pronounced ‘wax’- we love a good acronym in the health service!)
Also, PathWest (pathology), Child & Adolescent, and Health Support services reside under the WA public system. Health Support exists for the internal needs of the 44,000 employees who work for WA Health. As opposed to the public seeking services, including IT, procurement but most importantly ‘Employees and Payroll services’, possibly all that is necessary to know!
What to know about pay for locum doctor in WESTERN AUSTRALIA
As a locum working in WA, the opportunities for pay and reward are very good. The Perth metro and country health service roles are always buoyant and in high need. For registrar and senior consultants there are many options, and of course these pay very well. More junior opportunities can be found frequently in the metro areas. But comparatively there tend to be good opportunities throughout WA. Compared to say Victoriahich is much harder to get roles if you are not based there or have not established those connections. Also, with a long history of FIFO (Fly-in fly-out) roles in mining industries and remote location working, this is not uncommon in WA.
WA Country Health Service and Perth Metro pay doctors directly, via ABN and the submission of invoices. The rates tend to be daily (as opposed to hourly) based, and inclusive of all your extras. That means superannuation is not paid directly to your nominated account. And it is the responsibility of the doctor to arrange these payments from your base income.
Also, your tax contribution needs to be personally managed. With regards to these kinds of life and accounting administration, it is always a good idea to get a personal accountant or financial advisor to ensure you are on top of your bookkeeping! If it’s done regularly it shouldn’t be a headache for you at the end of the financial year. Your locum agency should be prepared to support you with invoice templates. To get you started and help you along the way with good practices here.
The other paperwork required for WA locum positions to work within the WACHs system is your credentialing. And they use an online system to coordinate this and your timesheet management called E-Mercury. Once you have provided the required documents, you will be generated a medical services agreement. Which has an expiry date, and this is linked to your locum agency. For the terms of that agreement, you will need to be represented by that agency.
So, be aware if you have done work before via another organisation in WA Health – it’s worth checking the expiry date of your agreement to avoid any issues with the medical workforce next time you’re looking for a placement. At BluGibbon we generally work with the same doctors for as long as suits them. And we are always happy to provide you with free advice in the instance you are looking for a change.
What types of jobs can be found in WA for locums?
We get a lot of feedback at BluGibbon from doctors crossing from Queensland or NSW who really love the changeover across to WA. The set up is easy to navigate. They enjoy the process and approach taken to manage and support locum doctors. As well as the diversity on the ground and opportunities that exist.
Aboriginal Medical Service
There is much work in the communities on the ground in regional AMS centres – i.e., looking after remote communities around the state. Due to the sheer size of the state, emergency retrievals are common presenting into Emergency Departments. There are also multiple AMS services dotted around the coastland and further east inland into the state.
WACHS (country health service)
If you are keen to work within more remote locations. And within WACHS (country health service) as an alternative to Perth Metro, Aboriginal health will be a primary aspect of that care required. The WACHS Aboriginal Health Strategy is a specific whitepaper. Outlining the detail required and pillars to allow a better service to be provided to the indigenous populations that call WA home. Aboriginal and indigenous peoples have cultural beliefs and values. That can appear very different to European ways of life and approach to medicine.
So the delivery of health care and services as well as disease prevention and general wellbeing has an incredibly important role to play here. If you are interested in working in these types of areas, background research and reading is very much encouraged! WA Country Health Service Aboriginal Health Strategy outlines a service plan for the duration 2019-2024. Aligning the priorities of addressing disadvantage and inequity and building healthy and thriving communities. Coupled with the WA Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Framework 2015-2030. Which is the guiding policy document for aboriginal health across WA. These are 2 key documents that would be worth reviewing if this is an area you are passionate and interested in developing your skillset more broadly across Aboriginal care provision.
Living in Western AuStralia When Being a Locum Doctor
If you’re looking for a beautiful and diverse location. With no end to activities and things to do just around the corner, WA is the place to be. Diving, aquatic life, fishing, remote beaches 4wD experiences, the out of the ordinary trips and visits you can do in WA are endless. And given the remoteness of the areas you will rarely be bothered with big groups of tourists if you’re looking for some peace and quiet!!
If wineries and food culture are your thing. The areas around Margaret River provide some great spots for wine tasting and locally produced fresh and delicious dishes. Much akin to the great Australian local farmers style markets, food and wine festivals and events. That have become so popular in recent years.
Western Australia Highlights
Check out BG’s Locum locations blog on some of our favourite hotspots for more information on local insight and things.
Esperance, tucked away in a crook of land on the south coast of the state has both sea (or surf) beaches and calmer inland waters. As well as inland lakes and nature reserves in abundance. With many little islands just offshore from the mainland, this is home to a great many species of wildlife and sea/land-based creatures. That live in the southern hemisphere such as seals and sea lions. As well as with any coastal beach – the potential for shark life!
Broome is about 2,500km by road, and directly north of Esperance on the opposite coastline. Apart from the coastal location they share they couldn’t be more different! Broome’s beaches are tropical with white sand. And in certain seasons take care with dangerous jellyfish and in many coastal and riverland areas crocodiles that are typical of the Kimberley region! Sunset camel rides can be taken along Cable Beach. Which is a tourist spot and safe for swimming most times of the year. But as always with Australia, it’s best to seek local advice at the time of visiting before you dive in.
Hedland or Port Hedland as its probably most well known for is another tourist drop of/stop. About 200km along the north coastline west of Broome. Often frequented by cruise ships, but traditionally the country’s largest port for goods. Transporting mined goods and also agricultural produce and livestock. There is an interesting history in terms of transport infrastructure and the development of Australia’s goods export trade to be found in Hedland. As a tropical coastal town, Hedland weathers frequent storms in the wet season. Pollution from mining and particular iron ore dust is also a local micro-climate issue. That is seen in the presentation of higher respiratory hospitalisation rates, than in other areas.
Whatever your needs or experience about what opportunities we have available today, and our favourite stories about locuming in the state of WA. Happy hunting!