Zara Aziz: There's no such thing as 'free time' for GPs

I have been a part-time GP for a number of years, and this has been a cause of consternation no doubt to the government, some of my regular patients and even my Dad.

As my appraisal approaches, I get busy on the toolkit, reflecting on whether I should increase my sessions. Last year I had a life-changing appraisal. My appraiser did not ask me to turn on the computer. Neither did he run tediously through each and every CPD from the previous year – he simply asked to talk through what was important to me.

Needless to say this opened up a can of worms, and led to a discussion on surviving workload, stress and trial by media.

It can be lonely being a GP. You sit in a room for 12 hours a day – whether it is a new state of the art consulting room or a cluttered, about-to-fail-CQC disaster. There is you and your computer, with a sick patient thrown in every ten minutes.

It is easier to email my thoughts via and copy in the whole practice, or ask for a cup of tea via instant messaging than it is to vacate the worn seat to walk down the corridor and up the stairs to the kitchen.

By 11 o’clock I am starved of both food and company. So when a colleague suggests daily meetings at 1.30 to bond, eat lunch and hand out visits, we all jump at the idea. We are perhaps late to bring these to our practice - over the years we have been so busy chasing our tails that there has never before been time to sit socially for five minutes during the day.

Home is the same. I read somewhere that many people (especially women) prefer being at work than home. The latter is often not perceived to be a peaceful haven but a hub of activity with endless chores and emotions to get to grips with. 

I can identify with this to a degree – particularly as we are right in the middle of summer holidays. My patience is wearing thin and I am still awake every midnight processing the day through my frazzled brain.

This week as my youngest turns three, I feel that we have both reached a milestone in our lives. And apparently I am not alone in that thinking.

‘Don’t you think you should increase your sessions now that Baby will be going to pre-school and you will have so much free time on your hands?’ asks my Dad.

‘Free time, what is that?’ I ask.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol

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