Leaving GP Partnership: making the decision
GP Vicky Froome reflects on what it took to leave a partnership and become a locum
Being in Partnership
Being a partner was what I had spent years working towards. I was also a GP Trainer, led on QOF, and was extremely fortunate to be in a strong team – a relationship that lasted 8 years. We all had different strengths that complimented each other and worked well together as a unit. I think we gave our patients – a socioeconomically diverse group in London - a pretty good service.
All in all, I achieved pretty much everything I had always aspired to achieve.
After having three wonderful children, I started to realise that perhaps it actually isn’t possible to have it all. The commute, the long days and the ever-growing amount of work meant that I simply did not have enough time or energy left for my family.
Soon, I was logging onto the remote desktop from home every night, weekend and day off.
The Decision Making Process
Whilst on maternity leave with my third child, I oscillated between feeling I should go back rather than let my partners and patients down; feeling that I could not go back to the demands of the job and being terrified of making the wrong decision. Mostly I felt disappointed in myself that I was failing to be able to do everything properly having spent twenty years of my life working towards it.
Talking to family, friends, my peer learning group - and basically anyone else who would listen - I eventually made the decision that I had known all along was right.
Making it Official
I felt sick going in to meet with my partners, even knowing I was doing the right thing. I was not sure I was going to actually be able to do it, even though I had the letter in my bag. I even took my baby girl with me to keep reminding me why I had made this decision, which helped.
It was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had. Maybe it was because I had been thinking about it for so long, but I hadn’t expected my partners to be so shocked and upset. It felt like the break up of a relationship. Nevertheless, they were understanding. Suddenly I was left with a dreadful sinking feeling that I wouldn’t be able to manage without them.
I focused on updating my CV, making lists of contacts and practices to contact, sorting out my accounts and signing up to a diary management system. Quickly I started to realise that actually I was going to be able to manage on my own professionally. It was even exciting o be setting out on a new phase of my life.
Knowing that my replacement at the practice was a wonderful doctor, and in fact was the first F2 trainee I had had several years before, also really helped.
Life as a Locum
Two weeks into locuming, I already had two long-ish term locum roles in lovely practices where I already felt like a regular. I also had two private sessions per week. Somehow I had ended up doing ten sessions a week – I found it hard to say no, having touted for work. Nevertheless, it felt good to have enough work for now. I promised myself I could do less, later on and think about whether I wanted to work in the school holidays.
It didn’t feel like a chore to be doing so much clinical work. I managed to eat my lunch in peace. Even being able to go to the shops and buy lunch was a surprise. As soon as I finished work, I switched off.
All in all, I already knew it was a good move.
18 Months On
I love the flexibility and variety of my work. I do not have to miss school assemblies or sports days anymore, and I have lots more time and energy for my family. It took a while to get over the feeling that I had failed myself, and to get used to not having a “regular” job but I haven’t looked back. There are times when my diary isn’t full as far in advance as I would like, but it has always filled up, and I have worked in some great practices and met some great people on the way.
It is refreshing to be able to really focus on the patients. And when I go home early and spend more time with my children, I look at the chaos and listen to the noise, and ask myself why on earth I thought I wanted to spend more time at home!