There are dual benefits to both Australian physiotherapists and Connect Health

Chris McCarthy, Team Lead Physiotherapist at Connect Health Herts Valleys Integrated MSK service, tells us about why and how he moved from Australia to the UK, motivated by the attraction of European travel.

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I really enjoy the community ethos of Connect Health with an overall emphasis on empowering patients and encouraging self-management.

I come from Melbourne, Australia and joined Connect Health in May 2019

My wife and I had spoken previously about coming to the UK to be closer to Europe for travel, but we’d never made any concrete plans. One day, I was just daydreaming, looking for roles locally, and I came across the opportunity with Connect Health for a MSK physio role in London. This sparked us to think more deeply about a relocation.


It was an amazingly quick process of about 4 months

I first contacted the recruiter in mid-January 2019 and 4 months later I started in the role.


The biggest thing for my wife and I was trying to organise a visa

On this occasion, we went with my wife’s ancestral visa, whereby if you have an ancestor (grandparent or parent) who were born in the UK, you are eligible to work in the UK for up to 5 years. The good thing is there is no age limit. We’re both in our 30’s and the youth visa (which the majority of younger Aussies come on) is only eligible if you are under 31 and gives working rights for 2 years. As part of my package, Connect Health paid for relocation fees, costs of flights and Visa costs which remain covered as long as I stay with the company for 2 years.

Other options available as part of the recruitment drive include the option for Connect Health to sponsor colleagues, which gives working rights in the UK, as long as you continue working for Connect Health.


There were a few challenges with the process

The recruiter probably wasn’t that familiar with the geography and specific location of the role in relation to London. This made it confusing at first, though it was all very transparent at the interview stage. What I discovered was there would be quite a lot of travel involved and therefore I needed to purchase a car.


Lessons learnt

A key thing to consider is the importance of organising your National Insurance number as soon as you get to the UK as there are specific meetings to organise, but this was all explained quite well by the recruiter. Also, it is important to know that HCPC registration can take between 3-6 months.


I’ve always been interested in sport and exercise

I have always been interested in sport (mainly cricket and rugby) and exercise. I went to university initially to do podiatry and then education but I realised it wasn’t right for me at the time, so I ended my studies early. After 6 years learning a trade in the automotive repair industry, I felt I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life, so I returned to university, firstly for exercise science and then physiotherapy.


Private physio in Australia

Before arriving in the UK all my work has been within private physio clinics in Melbourne. Most MSK work in Australia is in private practice due to the way health insurance works over there. The culture of private practice is more focused on patient retention and passive therapy and I realise now that I much prefer to educate and empower patients with a more active management approach.


The move to the UK and Connect Health

Our motivation to move to the UK was strongly influenced by the love of travel. I had never been to Europe and my wife had always wanted to move somewhere over here for a stint. She works in HR and got a job in London fairly easily.

I really enjoy the community ethos of Connect Health with an overall emphasis on empowering patients and encouraging self-management. I also like that it is a close-knit team, resources are shared freely, and senior clinicians are very open to share their expertise and advice.


Connect Health is very inclusive, especially related to new overseas employees

In my first month the Chief Medical Officer made a special point of coming to say hello and have a good chat, followed by many others. I found this to be very engaging from such a senior colleague, which set the tone ever since. There isn’t a strong hierarchical system. Everyone is very friendly!


The career pathways are excellent

I started as a senior MSK physio and a year later, I was promoted to team leader. I’ve not worked in other NHS services but from what I’ve heard, it’s more flexible at Connect Health to develop your skills and career based on demonstrable values, as opposed to time spent in the job.


I’ve learnt leadership and people management skills

As well as the leadership skills I have learnt, I feel that I have gained greater insight into the medical side of patient presentations which has been invaluable. In Australia, it is far easier to refer directly back to GP so there is not as much emphasis on these skills.


I’d encourage others to consider moving to the UK

Try a different type of work environment – it can be liberating in terms of helping patients to self-manage instead of stressing about rebooking them twice a week. The lifestyle is good and the proximity for travel is fantastic. Obviously, the weather isn’t as good as Australia though!


It’s a very inclusive and supportive working environment

My personal experience of the relocation process and professional integration into Connect Health has not come without its challenges, but it has been deeply rewarding.



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