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PERSONAL PRIORITIES - achieving a work/life balance

Advances in technologies and increased globalisation have enabled and encouraged workers around the world, and in every industry to challenge traditional working patterns.

These days adapting working routines and moving away from the constraints of previous employment contracts mean that everyone strives to achieve the goal of an ideal work/life balance.

In the health service, and particular with GPs who are not covering hospital hours, this is not only possible but actively encouraged in order to keep staff retention high and morale good for team members.

With a five-year-old daughter and the demands that motherhood brings, one GP who fully understands the need for a good work/life balance in Dr Anuhba Sinha who is based at Kingshurst Medical Practice in Solihull.

Working three short and two long days, Dr Sinha manages to spend plenty of quality time with her daughter and says that the opportunities to make the job work for you and your family are plentiful.

“The health service has always been good for that,” she said. “I have been fortunate that all of my various jobs have been very flexible with start times, finish times and what hours I can work to fit around my daughter.

“If I wasn’t able to do that it would be very difficult and a lot more stressful. But I’ve never had any problems and people always try to accommodate your requests.”

Dr Sinha says that being organised helped her arrange a working pattern that suited her family, and she established before she returned from maternity leave what hours she would be working on her return.

“It does take a lot of organising,” she explained. “And you have to do a fair bit of tweaking until you get it right. I did find it a bit of a struggle at first, but I think after 14 years in practice I have the skills and experience that people want and need so they want to be able to employ you.”

Echoing Dr Sinha’s feelings that the health service is good for making the balance work for parents is Dr Joanne Watt, GP and senior partner based at the Great Oakley Practice in Corby.

She said: “In our practice we have people who start early or finish later or whatever, we have complete flexibility and we’re all parents so we’ve all been there.

Working alongside Dr Sinha at Kingshurst Medical Practice is Dr Rebecca Henderson, who has felt comfortable and supported in negotiating a working pattern that works for her and her family.

She said: “Before I had children I worked 9-10 sessions per week and enjoyed that but now I would find that unsustainable.”

Married and with two children, aged three and one, Dr Henderson knew that she would have to change her work routine once she came back from maternity leave recently.

“My current practice have been really understanding of the fact I have a young family and commitments to pick them up from nursery etc,” she explained.

“They allow me to adjust my working day accordingly, I currently work 5 sessions a week and will shortly be starting to work term time only.”

This flexibility is vital to those with young families or other commitments and within the health service practice managers and fellow clinicians are encouraged to promote and support alternate ways of working.

Dr Henderson said: “I manage to achieve a good work life balance with the support of my team and I feel very grateful for being able to achieve that. My current working pattern suits me for this stage in my life.”