Zara Aziz: I'm giving myself permission to work fewer hours

Having worked harder and smarter over the past few years to deal with the never-ending work, Dr Zara Aziz says it might now be time to work less.

My son was taking his time doing his homework on indices. I had been watching him for a while: he sharpened his pencil, drew a neat margin in his Maths book, then slowly took out his calculator, blew some eraser off the page and looked to find the relevant questions in his exercise book. From what I could see it looked to be large scale act of procrastination.

I was finding it hard not to intervene and inject some urgency into the task.

‘Maybe you should speed up. You haven’t got all day.’

‘I’m getting organised,’ he retorted.

‘You mean, delaying doing any work as long as possible.’ This earned me a stare.

‘It’s OK to take your time sometimes Mum,’ he came back with this wise nugget.

I have recently been coming to the same conclusions myself – not an easy undertaking given the fast conveyor belt that I have learnt to deal with over the years. I am sure we would all like to take our time when doing things. But in this modern age time is a luxury.

Not enough hours in the day

There are physically not enough hours in the day to clear the desk completely. We are constantly trying to juggle, create and manage our time. The recent GMC survey seemed to suggest that our pressures and dwindling compassion was somehow linked to the 10-minute consultation.

This may be, but I see no more face-to-face patients than I did six years ago when I first became a partner. What is not comparable at all is the amount of work that keeps on landing outside of these clinical encounters, in pigeon holes, results inbox(es) and prescription trays. Then there is the email traffic and countless telephone calls.

Having worked harder and smarter to deal with the never-ending work, I have now decided to give myself permission to work fewer hours in the day, but above all to not feel guilty that I need to pack more in my 11-hour day because I am a part-time doctor.

This week when I did not write that orthopaedic referral letter the same evening or make that audiology referral when I had a few spare minutes because of a DNA, the whole world did not come tumbling down.

Being a GP is a vocation, with compassion at its core even if endless obstacles strewn at every corner threaten its very existence. As this tumultuous year draws to a close, I know that from now on I will not let time dictate me. And Christmas has reminded me again about giving, goodwill and coming together (that should exist all year round) and I will concentrate my precious time on that.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP in Bristol

Read more from Zara Aziz

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP consulting room

GPs 'running on empty' as LMC issues third red alert in a month

An LMC has issued its third countywide red alert in four weeks as primary care contends...

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...

Sign outside BMA House

GP suicide sparks calls for measures to protect doctors from spiralling workloads

The government and policymakers must do more to safeguard doctors and NHS staff from...