Zara Aziz: The reality of returning to work after a holiday

Studies in countries such as Sweden have shown that antidepressant prescriptions go down when people synchronise their holidays. Obviously this can work if you are an MP and take 48 days off in summer at the same time as all of your parliamentary mates, but not in the 24/7 NHS where sickness does not take a holiday.

All good things come to an end and so it is with our vacation. It is with this in mind and optimism in my step that I leave the confines of the plane dragging all three kids behind me, whilst their Dad wrestles with the hand luggage and Lego.

We are met not with a gangway but open steps being hit with Arctic winds and pouring rain. This goes unnoticed by the twins who are still battling it out over who will have the last Malteser. This ceases to matter after a few seconds as the coveted ball of chocolate rolls out under the waiting bus and we are on our way to the terminal, shivering in our inadequate summer attire.

Like many a sun-loving Brit, I look forward immensely to the annual summer vacation, more so than any other holiday in the year. But since the advent of parenthood and employment, I have also developed an irrational fear of this annual ritual.

It takes me five days or so to switch off on any break, and banish both the guilt and thoughts of the pile of work waiting on return.

The summer holiday needs precise planning down to the last detail, all of which goes out of the window on our return flight, which is delayed and we find ourselves languishing in the substantial passport queue at one in the morning. The twins find this rather exhilarating, having never been up till this late before; Baby however is not so impressed and takes himself off to the front of the line, to be brought back to us sulking by a stern border official.

Later that week I am back in the surgery ploughing through my inbox of a hundred emails and trying (and failing) to remember my EMIS password. It has only been ten days since I was at work – I imagine Jeremy Hunt must feel like the cast of Interstellar on his return from the summer break (48 days is a long time in politics). Will he even know what it means to be a health secretary, or is he likely to carry on where he left off?

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

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