Shropshire GP runs support group to help female colleagues back to work

Women GPs in their 30s are 'dropping out like flies' and struggle to return to work after maternity leave - but support groups could remedy this and help ease the workforce crisis, according to a Shropshire GP.

Dr Fiona Hay: supporting GPs to return to work
Dr Fiona Hay: supporting GPs to return to work

Women who have left general practice need help getting back to work, says Dr Fiona Hay, who will be running a coffee morning in Shropshire aimed at this group.

‘I’m getting increasingly alarmed about the loss to the profession of women in their 30s, who seem to be leaving in droves. It can seem a bit onerous to come back,’ she told GP.

‘We need those women, and it’s a real shame that they get to that stage, having put in all that work, and then drift away.’

Dr Hay hopes that support groups or a buddy system can be set up following the meeting, which any woman with a medical degree can attend. ‘There’s a lot of supportiveness out there from fellow GPs, especially women GPs. We know what it’s like, so a lot of us are very keen to give something back and support younger women coming through, because we realise how important it is.’

Workload pressures

Increased pressure on GPs is one of the main reasons for women not returning, says Dr Hay. ‘The changing face of general practice potentially intimidates some people - none of us are quite certain about what direction general practice is heading in,’ she said.

Dr Hay says the ‘administration and bureaucracy’ can be difficult to handle, particularly for those returning to work part-time. ‘It’s hard to manage the workload, especially when you work part-time, as there are only so many hours in the day. Those hours are getting stretched to breaking point in terms of what we’re expected to do in that time.’

At the meeting, doctors will hear about the GP retainer and refresher schemes, best ways to keep up with CPD, advice on portfolio careers, and coping strategies when returning to work.

Dr Hay hopes the initiative will inspire other GPs to set up similar grassroots schemes, including those for male GPs as well as female ones.

‘It’s important for local GPs to get together,’ she said. ‘I think people just need to be put in touch with others in the same situation. Perhaps we can act as a catalyst – this could be the beginning of something a lot bigger.’

The coffee morning will take place on Sat 14 March at 9.30am at the Trinity Centre, Meol Brace, Shropshire. Contact fiona.hay@nhs.net for more information or to sign up.

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