"When change is needed" by Dr Tim Lyttle

Watch my video blog first?

The year was 2022.

For about 10 years I’d been a GP in Whitchurch and had survived a “last man standing situation” through a lot of hard work, with colleagues, to merge four GP practices into one. Oh, and I’d also taken on the role of PCN Clinical Director. Actually, I was tired, and my world felt too full, especially when reading CCG/ICB emails well after 9pm. I knew something had to change or my mental health was at risk as had happened 10 years previously when I was doing too much. Back in 2012, recovering from anxiety and depression, I promised myself that never again would I put my health at risk with overwork. Was I going to do just that?

So, what to do? Difficult conversations with partners? Yes! I did know that they felt the same pressures and the last thing I wanted was to make things worse for them. However, was I prepared to give up on my hopes and dreams of other interests I wanted to pursue? I’d completed a diploma in psychotherapy and was going to become a grandfather.

So, I did it. I left the partnership taking a “clinical career break”; a term taken from our ICB’s GP retention strategy. So that makes it ok! Doesn’t it?

I reduced my working week to about three days and took the time to explore my options. I agreed to give an NHS non-executive job a go (for at least 6-12 months) and also got myself a coach, something I would highly recommend. She suggested I take a look at a coaching and leadership course run by Michael Neill, an internationally renowned coach and best-selling author.

So, what did I learn? What were the outcomes? (Very important in our NHS!) For this newsletter, I’ll list just three.

One: I do actually enjoy being a GP. So, I’m now back working in urgent care / out of hours, even working overnight sessions. I’m also enjoying this “Refreshed GPs” role, seeking to support GPs considering if they need to change their working pattern in the second half of their careers. For me, I now carry an overriding principle that I would only do stuff which I know is ‘right’ for me. I can now see more clearly how important it is for GPs to be clear what levels of “corporate” NHS responsibility they are willing to shoulder.

Two: The NHS is in trouble. Yes, financially and structurally, but also and maybe most importantly in terms of its climate and culture. Sorry for the management lingo; climate and culture refer to the feel on the ground and how things are done. To give two contrasts; as a hospital associate non-executive, I had the privilege of working alongside a department which is doing so well that they (virtually I think) have a waiting list of people wanting to work for them, while (not referring to the same hospital trust) I’ve also experienced unhealthy environments. The NHS, whoever or whatever it is, needs to examine the climates and cultures within our influence and do something about them. If you have influence, I’d love to talk to you! I’m not going to mince my words any longer.

Three: So much of how I am, depends on what I’m thinking! Through working with Michael Neill, I’ve begun to understand what are called The Three Principles* of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. Some of the insights I’ve learned have truly been life changing. Fear of what the future, even 10 minutes from now, might hold has significantly reduced for me. I love this cartoon** of  “The Inner Maze” as an image to reflect the world we all live and work in. Rather than starting with the complexities of our external circumstances, I suggest that a better starting point is to gain an understanding or discovery of what reality is being created by our minds. I now notice that without this we can get lost not just in our personal but also our working lives.

* https://threeprinciplesfoundation.org/about-sydney-banks/


So, if any of this stuff interests you, Adam Pringle or I would love to chat. We are available for 1:1 conversations with GPs pondering similar, or different issues. Please email stw.refreshedgps@nhs.net to start a conversation.

Please also feel free to get in touch if you would like further information on The Three Principles.

Kind regards,

Tim Lyttle

Page last updated 15 March 2024