Dr Kath Speller: I qualified in 2004 in London, then moved down to the South West. After a couple of years, I took a career break to travel. On returning to the UK I accepted an A&E post in Bristol to begin speciality training in emergency medicine. After 18 months, I left to commence GP training hoping for more sociable hours(!). I had one period of maternity leave during training and on completion of VTS in 2013, I began working 9 sessions per week as a freelance locum. My eldest was only 3 at the time so I don’t know how I managed that really. However, I think general practice was probably a bit different in 2013 than it is now.
After nearly a year of locuming, I joined a partnership where I had done some sabbatical and maternity cover and was there for eight years as a six-session partner.
By the start of 2020 I had had another child and was regularly working 13-hour days or more. The additional business management of partnership was taking its toll, and I had also taken on a number of clinical lead roles at the practice. It all became too much; it started to affect my mental health. Subsequently, at the very start of the pandemic, I went off sick with burnout. It took a long time to recover, but with some amazing support through GP Practitioner Health I was ready to go back on a phased return in 2021. I had hoped to be able to reduce my sessional commitment at the practice and stay there but unfortunately this was not possible. I retired from the partnership a couple of months later.