Moving to Australia – Part Ten

Open Wide… Say Ahh….and Cough. Thank You.

Laustralian-approved-doctorast week in Moving to Australia Part Nine (you can access ALL previous parts through that link) I mentioned that the medical, for me, was the scariest part of this whole process. Now, I know MY medical is relevant only to ME. But reading my story may give you a better idea of what you can expect in this part of the process. It may also help you to avoid “opening a can of worms” unnecessarily. It’s a long story, but I can assure you, it was much, much longer when I lived through it. So, here we go.

Firstly, I should say that at the time of the medical I was 49 years of age and I considered myself pretty fit. I was playing five aside football twice a week for the full hour each session. I gave up smoking when I was 33. I had no fear of the medical. Except….

Back in 2000, a long long time before we had the idea to move to Australia, something strange happened to me. I completely lost my sense of smell. The most common reasons for a loss of sense of smell (according to Dr Google) are:

  • Viral infection
  • Head trauma
  • Nasal and sinus disease

So I went to the doctor and the doctor didn’t know. So he referred me to a specialist. So I went to see the specialist and the specialist (who got right up my nose AND gave me an MRI brain scan) didn’t know. “Just one of those things” – he said. And discharged me.

Around 2004 with my sense of smell now completely gone and taking my sense of taste with it, I went back to the doctor. (Sound of can of worms opening). He referred me back up the line which eventually led to an appointment with the National Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in London. By the time my appointment with them came up, (you know how slow the NHS can be) it was June 2006.

As you will know from my timeline, this is six months after we had decided to emigrate to Australia.

The good people at that clinic could also find no reason for my anosmia, as it is called. But they wanted to refer me on to a neurologist who specialised in loss of smell. I should have just said no, but it’s tough when you can’t taste your bacon sandwich.

My appointment with him took place at the end of January 2007, about six months after our application to emigrate to Australia had been submitted. This man had all sorts of theories of possible causes for my problem and wanted me to attend his personal clinic for further investigation. The earliest appointment he could offer me (he was a busy man) was October 2007. I was hoping to be in Australia by then! And that’s what I told him.

“Really?” he said, “with this existing condition, you will not pass the medical unless, at the very least, you have a full body CAT scan which proves to be completely clear.”

Gulp!

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. His advice was to book a scan up now, otherwise for sure, the Australian approved doctor will request one and that will only delay our application.

A full body scan was the last thing I needed. Those scans show up everything! If there was the slightest problem with any organ or any cell, anywhere in my body, the scan would pick it up. Lovely! But I took his advice and my scan appointment was made for the beginning of May 2007.

If you read last week’s post link you will know that we were allocated a case officer on April 27, 2007. Can you see how nicely these dates are converging? I got the result of my CAT scan on May 17th and my medical with the Australian approved doctor was on May 23rd.

The day the letter turned up with the result of my scan is one I will never forget. I held the envelope in my hands for some time. Realising that was getting me nowhere, I took a deep breath and began opening it. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that our futures were about to be decided by the contents of a single sheet of A4.

Underneath my name it simply said “This patient’s CT of the chest and abdomen was normal.”

Yippeeeedooo!

Six days later I was having my Australian medical. I took with me two things. One was the sealed envelope which contained my chest x-ray taken a couple of weeks earlier. The other was my letter with the result of my scan.

The Chest X-Ray

I believe everybody over the age of 11 has to have a chest x-ray, they cost around £100. A quick tip on that. You are not told the result of your chest x-ray, the doctor seals it and signs across that seal. So when you have it done, be nice and friendly to the person who does the x-ray. Tell them it’s for Australian migration purposes, that always opens up the conversation and tells them you’re not having an x-ray because your doctor thinks you are ill.

Once the x-rays are done, the radiologist always checks that the images have come out okay before sending you on your way. After they have done this, say something like “Well? Will Australia have me?” You’ll get a good idea from the answer. Mine said “Oh, you’ll be just fine”. If she had turned white and refused to answer, that may have indicated a problem.

So, back to the medical. It was a very thorough and as predicted by the other doctor the conversation turned toward the investigations into my condition. Trying my best not to be smug, I explained that I had been seen by a whole host of experts and had every test imaginable, including an MRI and some rather fetching internal nasal photography. Nobody can find anything wrong. I then said these tests culminated with a full body CAT scan and I have the results.

With that, I handed him my scan results letter, which I had begun to look upon as my passport to Australia. He read it and then he looked at me and said…..

“No, I need the full results, this is no good. Please get me the full results of your scan and I also want to see copies of the complete records which you can obtain from your doctor and in particular, I want to see the original discharge from the first specialist you saw and I want the full copies of correspondence between you, your doctor and between him and the second specialist. It will take me a week to receive back the results from your urine test (told you it was thorough) and if you get the information I require to me by then, I will included in my report to the Australian government. If I haven’t heard from you by that time, I will send my report as is and it will then be up to the Australian authorities to decide based on the information they have. Thank you. NEXT!”

My next seven days were so much fun. I discovered how useless my local doctor was at keeping records. For example, he could find all the correspondances about my admissions to specialists but none of those confirming me being discharged. I discovered that the only valid full report of my CAT scan was somewhere in a truck on its way to a secret storage vault run by the NHS and could take weeks to locate, (hello, this is 2007!) even though my test had only been conducted within the last couple of weeks. I also discovered that my specialist, whom I had hoped would discharge me in view of the scan results, was in Paris and then going straight on to Turkey.

I pulled together the information required by the Australian approved doctor in nine days instead of his requested seven. But as there was a bank holiday Monday in between, it was possible I could still get the information to him in time. When I arrived at his surgery on Friday 1st June 2007 to hand deliver the information, he was not there. To this day I have no idea whether the extra stuff was included with his report or not. I could see no reason to try and find out.

I just waited, again. This time, nervously.

For a full chronological list and brief description of all the posts in this series about how I moved to Australia, please visit my page How to Move to Australia.

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{ 145 comments… add one }
  • Saurabh Sharma February 24, 2017, 6:43 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    My sibling is a software engineer and has a experience of 3 years approximately. He just got his skill assessment and now certified with the current occupation in SOL. Further my query in front is in regards of the medical requirements for PR in subclass 189 as my sibling have type 1 Diabetes since 20 years which is from young age. But the diabetes is well controlled and no complications because of good diet and workout. The condition only is that he is on regular medication which is insulin and doesn’t need anything else apart from that. Please suggest us would there be any problem in health requirement or significant cost in this case.
    Thanks
    Regards

    • Trevor February 24, 2017, 10:25 pm | Link

      Look at it from Australia’s point of view. They want healthy immigrants and can take their pick from around the world so as not to burden their health system to the point of collapse, such as currently exists in the U.K. South Asia has lots of healthy software engineers who will get preference over your sibling. I’m not perfect myself BUT if I were to seek permanent residence through the marriage route, there is a ‘visa health waiver’ which relaxes the rules for those with mitigating factors like yours. In other words, they are more accommodating when family ties are involved. Australia, in its present desirable form, largely exists through rigorous checks and enforcement of immigration rules.

      • BobinOz February 27, 2017, 9:22 pm | Link

        Saurabh, you will be pleased to hear that Trevor clearly has no idea how this works. The Australian immigration department does not pick and choose people based on who is the healthiest and whether they can get someone in better condition from Asia, they simply follow their own guidelines on the health criteria.

        I could not possibly tell you whether your sibling would pass the medical or not as applicants are assessed on an individual basis. But if you were to Google “Fact Sheet 22 – The Health Requirement” you will find out what the Australian government has to say about this and I’m sure it will make you feel a lot more comfortable about your sibling’s situation.

        Good luck, Bob

        • Trevor March 4, 2017, 9:28 am | Link

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/before-you-go/10049348/Disability-neednt-be-a-barrier-to-a-new-life-Down-Under.html

          http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=mig/disability/report.htm

          I suspect that globalist pressure is forcing Australia into relaxation of its health rules such that they now estimate the ‘significant cost’ of the malady to the country over 5 years, rather than reject outright based on a serious disease. It is a harder fight to get in as a worker with health issues. I merely picked South Asia as a exemplar of software engineering but the rules still stand for all.

          I recently read of a British family with an autistic child returning to the UK because Australia did not have appropriate special-school facilities. No doubt due to an overall-healthier population and hence lack of demand. If you took away their booze and sugars, the ockers would be paragons of health, thanks to the fresh produce, outdoor life and sunshine.

          • BobinOz March 7, 2017, 7:01 pm | Link

            Trevor, in your previous comment you seem to be suggesting that Australia would choose an applicant who did not have diabetes over and above the sibling of the original poster who did have it, I was merely pointing out that it does not work like that.

            My understanding is that the government are mainly concerned by highly contagious diseases, or chronic long-term illnesses that would be expensive to treat. I felt that you had misled the original poster and I needed to point that out.

            You have posted a couple of interesting articles which I’m sure many people will find helpful, and yes, I believe the Australian government are constantly looking at and reviewing all of their procedures with regards to immigration on an ongoing basis.

  • Trevor February 11, 2017, 6:03 am | Link

    It seems Oz is mainly concerned about TB, Hep & HIV which primarily affects the third world, so Westerners have little to worry about. I presume your past NHS records are protected from Oz eyes by privacy laws, so they only know about specific tests to which you authorise access for the visa?

    I have no worries about TB, Hep & HIV but I do take pills for a pain condition and also testosterone gel: not expensive and I’m happy to pay my medical costs — but does Oz rely on your honesty to disclose existing conditions and can’t check your records directly? Also, once in-country, presumably any private doctor would be happy to dispense the meds if paid-for?

    One scenario is entering on a 90-day visit visa, for which no medical is required, marrying an Australian at some stage, and then (in-country) applying for permission to stay … does that entail passing a medical too? Thanks.

    • BobinOz February 12, 2017, 8:20 pm | Link

      Well, you would have to check with a MARA registered migration agent about your last scenario, but my understanding is that any more permanent visa will require a medical.

      It’s true, I think, that Australia is mostly concerned about highly contagious diseases such as you have mentioned. As for your personal records in the UK, they can request to see them, I’m not sure they can get them without your permission though.

      I was asked to provide my doctor’s records, as explained above, but it wasn’t an actual requirement, more of a request. That said, I think it is in the applicant’s interest to provide them to help get the application accepted, especially if your records have nothing to hide.

      For more information though, Google “Fact Sheet 22 – The Health Requirement” to read the Australian Government’s criteria on this.

      • Trevor February 14, 2017, 3:37 am | Link

        Thanks Bob. From what you say, I could marry an Australian in good faith, only to be refused permission to reside on account of my long-term health record back in the UK, which is not so rosy (chronic pain; hormonal issues). I might get away with it if I averted their request but satisfied an Aussie doctor in an up-to-date medical which concentrated on the communicable diseases of specific interest, which I don’t have.

        Countries with 90-day visa-free entry, i.e. most of the Western world, theoretically permit 2 trips a year, so half one’s time could be spent in Australia without the onerous residence requirements. As a bachelor in retirement I could do 90 days Australia, 90 days Philippines, then repeat, or throw in Thailand, New Zealand etc on 90-day rotations. The downside is that short-term accommodation is expensive in Western countries and one does not build up any right to residence or citizenship in Australia by this method.

        • Mark February 14, 2017, 1:16 pm | Link

          From my knowledge Trevor you are not likely to avert them in any shape or form treat it like taking an exam at Uni. The medicals are done by vetted organisations with doctors within same not just any doctor the applicant chooses . You’d sit your exam at Uni under strict third party conditions… They would supply you a list of doctors you can use who have I imagine signed up to uphold the rules and procedures that they require….It woud be foolhardy of any doctor to miss any part or be averted from any of the questions and tests just like the Uni exam. Their professional career may not survive.

          • BobinOz February 14, 2017, 8:30 pm | Link

            Trevor, I think you should Google “Fact Sheet 22 – The Health Requirement” to read the Australian Government’s criteria on this. You might find information helpful.

            I will have to duck out of the conversation now though, because the circumstances under which you do or do not have a medical and whether or not you can do 90 days in and 90 days out here and there are really questions you must ask a MARA registered migration agent.

            The rules can be very complicated, they are paid to keep up to date with them, so they are the go to guy’s for this sort of thing.

            • Trevor February 14, 2017, 11:58 pm | Link

              Thanks for the replies Bob and Mark. Welcome to the Brave New World of antipodean health regulations! Here’s a summary of the system once in:

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/expat-health/7898820/Expat-guide-to-Australia-health-care.html

              Since 2014 there has been a health-waiver provision for partner visas, so long as there are mitigating factors:

              https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Heal/overview-of-the-health-requirement/visas-that-have-a-health-waiver-provision

              • BobinOz February 15, 2017, 8:46 pm | Link

                Thanks for the links Trevor.

                I just want to point out that the article by the Telegraph is from 2010 so some of the information may now be out of date. I’ve also removed the link to the PDF because it was undated and the rules do change very regularly. There are almost always changes on 1 July each year, and sometimes they bring in immediate changes throughout the year. I wouldn’t want anyone to get misleading information.

                I always prefer to link to the government’s official immigration website, which your second link does, because I know they always keep their information up-to-date. That’s why I say it is best to go through a MARA registered migration agent, because they do keep up to date with the current rules.

  • Roxanne January 11, 2017, 10:42 pm | Link

    My mom was diagnosed with emphysema about 4 5 years ago , my step dad has a job opportunities to work in Australia , we are south African citizen , will my mom be rejected due to emphysema ? She is so much better then she was 4years ago ..

    • BobinOz January 12, 2017, 7:15 pm | Link

      That’s an impossible one for me to answer, but you might want to Google “Fact Sheet 22 – The Health Requirement” to read the Australian Government’s criteria on this. Ultimately though, it could all depend on the doctor’s medical report on your mum. Good luck though, Bob

  • Emi December 19, 2016, 6:25 pm | Link

    My partner and I completely forgot about doing the health check and I lodged my partner visa almost a year ago, and just remembered about doing it today. another person who moved to Australia said to wait until they contact you to do it but I’m not sure, I’m really paranoid about my application being denied even though I did pretty much everything else, would you happen to have any advice?

    • BobinOz December 19, 2016, 8:47 pm | Link

      Well, I think it is usual to wait until you are asked to supply the health check as it needs to be reasonably up-to-date. We were certainly asked by immigration to provide our police and health checks at some point towards the end of the process, so I’m pretty sure they will always ask for it when they need it.

      If in doubt, ask your case officer or, if you’re going through a MARA registered migration agent, check with them.

  • orla December 6, 2016, 3:40 pm | Link

    Hello
    I was wondering my partner got epilepsy when we were over here in aus and we are about to go for our P.R will it affect us with the full medical that we need to do

    • BobinOz December 6, 2016, 11:03 pm | Link

      Ah, see my answer to Shy below. Good luck, Bob

  • Shy September 25, 2016, 12:30 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Namaste from Nepal, I m a civil sub-engineer and my wife is staff nurse. we have already applied for student dependent visa for Australia . the thing which is bothering me like hell is that I had TB around 12 years back and it was well treated after that I m living a healthy life. but a scar remains in my chest, will this affect or will be the reason of visa rejection?? plz give some suggestions.

    • BobinOz October 2, 2016, 5:14 pm | Link

      Google “Fact Sheet 22—The Health Requirement” and you will be able to read the government’s guidelines on this. They make each decision on a case-by-case basis, so I can’t give you any kind of answer, but hopefully their guidelines will help you. Good luck, Bob

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