GP Pause is a novel programme supporting GPs and practice teams when a GP takes a period of planned/unplanned extended leave.
It is run through the Derbyshire GPTF (General Practice Task Force) and offers this support to all GPs and practices in Derbyshire.
GP Pause was set up because of a need identified and recognised through interviewing GPs and Practice Managers in Derbyshire. These interviews brought to light a lack of consistent support and guidance for both GPs and Practice teams when GPs had periods of extended leave. This gap in support was both during leave, but most particularly for the GPs return.
Watch programme creator Dr Eilise Brogan explain ‘Why GP Pause’
GP Pause offers 100% of GPs and Practices in Derbyshire both resources and signposting, to enable a personalised, supportive Pause, and return to work.
Benefits of the GP Pause Programme:
Support planning your ‘Pause’ and return to work
Signposting to support and resources during your pause
Access to education updates
A framework for both the GP and Practice to work to, to promote great communication around the ‘Pause’.
What is the Process?
We recognise that GPs may have very different reasons for their ‘pause’ and different requirements for support during and returning to work. This programme is completely optional but highly recommended. It is suitable for periods of leave lasting 2 or more weeks. It provides a formalised framework to ensure both parties feel supported in planning ‘pauses’ in careers, improving communication around it with their practice and in creating a smooth transition for returning to work.
We would recommend that the GP discusses their planned career break (for any reason e.g. maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave, caring leave etc.) at an early stage. Obviously, some extended periods of leave will be unexpected.
We would advise discussing this as early as possible, but completing the ‘Planning your Pause’ form at least 6 weeks prior to the ‘Pause’ beginning. However, notice for planned career breaks are often dictated via HR processes e.g. partnership agreements, maternity leave regulations and 6 weeks may not always apply. For example employees have to give 15 weeks notice of their intention to start mat leave (and produce their Mat B2).
The form is to be completed by the GP, in discussion with a member of the practice team, e.g. the practice manager, and/or GP Partner. This does not have to be face to face.
The form is to allow consideration and discussion of what the GP might find helpful during their time off e.g. how much contact they would like with the practice, when they might like to discuss their return rota and what might be useful on return. Obviously these things may change during the break, but it can be advantageous to start considering these things early. It is also essential for the practice in terms of forward planning if you expect there to be any significant changes e.g. a reduction in the number of sessions on return.
When the form is completed, we would advise a copy to be kept by the GP, the practice team and would also ask that a copy is sent to the GP Pause Programme.
Practice Teams – Download the below support information
- Visit the DDLMC website for other resources such as Occupational Health
Some GPs may want support during their break; either educational or pastoral. Others may not want or be able to be involved in any support while they are off. For this reason, planning the pause is very useful, so that both the GP and the Practice team are aware of each others wants, needs and expectations. The pause and return to work can then be personalised.
Take a look at the support and educational resources available to you.
To help you plan your return to work, we recommend that you complete the ‘Pressing Play’ form whenever you feel ready and ideally at least 2 weeks before your planned return. Again there are exceptions e.g. rules surrounding maternity leave returners who need to give at least 8 weeks notice if they are not returning to their existing role. You may also wish to discuss issues earlier e.g. If you wish to reduce sessions then it would need to be negotiated with the partners.
This gives time for rota planning in the practice. It gives both the GP and Practice Team time to discuss e.g. any rota adjustments that may be needed, mentoring in the practice or education needs.
It can be done remotely with either the practice manager and/or a GP partner (possibly the GP who would be your mentor on return).
We would advise the GP and Practice team to keep copies of the form, but we would also ask if you could send it to the GP Pause Programme as well.
By completing the ‘Planning your Pause’ form and sending it to the GP Pause Programme you will have informed us of your return date.
- Complete the ‘Pressing Play’ form with your practice, so that you feel confident in how you will be supported in your return to work. By doing this you will have a personalised return to work plan, that is tailored to your needs e.g. rota adjustments, GP mentor, induction etc. Doing this in good time also allows you practice time to plan and organise. Any significant changes e.g. changing of sessions would need earlier discussion and negotiation with the partners.
- Think about logistics e.g. carer responsibilities and plans in case of emergency. Who are your emergency ports of call should you need them?
- If eligible, arrange KIT days early and discuss payment.
- Make sure to think about any educational needs you may have and discuss how these could be addressed e.g. Derbyshire Education Network, or First 5 Derbyshire resources, RCGP webinars etc.
- Ensure you feel happy with your rota on return and ensure if you do have issues when you start, that you know who you would discuss these with.
- Be aware your return date may be dictated by factors such as e.g. your FIT note.
- For general advice, there is a useful section on the BMA website – Advice on returning to work after clinical absence.
Returning to work after COVID:
If you are returning to work after COVID, you may find the practice is working very differently. There are lots of resources available to support you e.g. regarding telephone consultations.
- The DDLMC website has some fantastic resources
- Visit the RCGP ‘COVID-19 Resource Hub’ there are many e-learning and podcasts on remote consulting and triaging.
Having a ‘pause’ as a locum can be a different experience to that of a GP who is salaried or a partner. If you do not have a regular practice, you may not feel that you have someone to complete the ‘Planning Your Pause’ form with.
In this instance, please use our ‘Planning Your Pause – as a locum’ form. This will be emailed to you when you contact the GP Pause Programme and inform us you are a locum. This can be completed by you either alone (as a reflective exercise) or if you contact GPTF you will be able to discuss and plan with a member of the GPTF team.
As previously stated, we would advise aiming to complete this form 6 weeks prior to your planned pause.
Please keep a copy of the form and send it to the GP Pause Programme firstname.lastname@example.org
Support during the Pause
Obviously, much of the support available is relevant to all GPs – see the ‘Support’ button.
However there is some support specific to locums:
- If you are part of the BMA, you can contact them for advice, additional information or support at email@example.com
- If you are part of Derbyshire Medical Chambers, you can contact them for support or guidance on returning to work through: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pressing Play after your Pause
If you haven’t done so already, contact the GP Pause Programme and inform them of when you are expected return to work date. Complete the ‘Pressing Play’ return to work form, as soon as you feel able, but at least 2 weeks before you plan to return to work. The form can be used as a self-reflection tool, or again, could be completed with the General Practice Task force team.
There are many reasons a GPs leave may be unplanned. GP Pause aims to support these GPs, to help them access any resources they may need when off, and then plan a supported return to work, when it is the right time for the GP.
We recommend practices contact a GP who is off for unplanned leave by letter. This may be unnecessary depending on the level of usual communication in the practice. However, it is important that communication is established, support offered, and contact frequency can then be agreed between the GP and Practice.