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‘Breach notice on my first day off with burnout’

Dr Shahzad Arif, a GP in Doncaster, says the local area team issued him with a breach notice after taking a day off due to burn out

I received a breach of contract notice when I took time off with burnout.

I felt I could not carry on any longer. I felt fatigued but I had the support of my own GP and the practice team.

The first breach notice was actioned due to no GP being in the building on the first day of my sick leave, when I was unable to find a locum. Our advanced nurse practitioner and prescribing nurses were there; any patients who couldn’t be managed by them were advised to attend A&E.

Many other Doncaster practices close for training one afternoon every other week – technically in breach of their contract. I am amazed NHS England overlooks this but served me with a breach notice on my first day off.

It took me four weeks to recover and by the sixth week, I started back in the practice. Since returning to work I have taken holiday but I cannot leave Doncaster in case the practice requires my presence. To avoid another breach, I have come in on days I had taken off.

These sanctions have knocked me back. I feel disillusioned and let down by the system. I do not feel valued for my contribution to general practice.

Dr Shahzad Arif is a GP in Doncaster

Readers' comments (22)

  • It's all politics .The NHS will realise when there are no GP's left.I think one should take care of his health which is equally important as looking after patients.i hope the GPC and RCGP support you.

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  • My advice: leave.

    the job is creating your burnout. Your health is ultimately more important than your unappreciated job.

    Locum, holiday abroad/work abroad for a while, enjoy life. Its not a long time we have on the planet. Why be miserable for 45 of those years?

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  • ridiculous and unsympathetic

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  • 0930 - I hope the GPC and RCGP support you...
    Good luck with that!
    We should not even be in this position.
    Whats worse is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel when we are asked to all this and more on weekends!
    Just leave. I am.

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  • I remember reading an article somewhere here that during your leave you had gone to work as a prison doctor.How is that compatible with being burnt out?Perhaps that was why you were served with a breach notice.Otherwise I suggest leaving and finding a job elsewhere because Doncaster like it's neighbours Barnsley and Rotherham are huge dismal,bleak sinkholes of the North

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  • I consider you ill and unfit during that day so i dont know why you did not phone to say i am unwell and sign self sick note, and it none of any body business to know the nature of your illness .

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  • Oh my goodness I am so sorry this has happened to you. It is all part of the plan to get rid of small practices to make way for large super practices- ripe for the taking by private providers. As for working elsewhere whilst off sick- it is not every job that makes you burnt out. It's usually the practice work as a partner that ducks the life out of you so of course you can be fit for one role and not another.

    But please put your own needs, health snd family first. You may have very good reasons for staying in this environment.

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  • which part of GP contract states GP has to be in the building....
    That's not a breach.
    Closing the practice is a breach...

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  • I absolutely have sympathy and empathy with your situation, having been through a similar illness. However, a number of comments on here demonstrate a lack of understanding of the real world. If a GP holds an NHS GMS contract then they are a businessman responsible for providing a service. The advice from anon 3.23 to just 'phone in sick' demonstrates a naivety and lack of commitment that perhaps pervades younger GPs. Don't turn up and someone else will do your work for you.
    Single handed GPs are certainly in a difficult position when they become unwell, but it is their responsibility to find/pay someone to run the service in their absence. You can't just ignore your responsibilities.

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  • just playing devil's advocate to see if there is a proper answer to this -

    you have a contract to provide GP services. If you are a single-hander and you are off for any reason, and there is no locum GP, you are not providing GP services. You are therefore breaching your contract and the contractee is entitled to react accordingly, indeed the contractee would be failing in their job if they did not.
    Since single handers will always be at risk of needing time off at no notice for illness, family bereavement etc, and locums may not be available at such short notice, the single hander must make other plans to ensure a GP service is available such as buddying up with other practices. It is the contractor's (i.e.) the GP's job to ensure they fulfill the contract and provide a GP.

    Discuss.

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