Well, it all started when
Dr Lucy Henshall
DR LUCY HENSHALL
I've been a GP since 1991, and was a Partner for 20yrs in a large Suffolk practice.
Then, in 2014, unexpected major surgery, ill health, and other complexities derailed everything. My recovery was bumpy, hindered by Chronic Migraine and the psychological impact of my life-changing experiences. Involuntary retirement from Partnership left me jobless, with nowhere to return to, or explore my readiness for resuming GP work.
Over time, I felt ever more isolated, almost invisible.
No one seemed willing to help resolve practical hurdles, like NHS IT re-enablement. It proved difficult to access clinical exposure in an enjoyable, supportive environment, but without the expectation of work output. It felt very “all or nothing” as few people understood the "Gap” - between not working, and working. That daunting initial transition and first step for any returner bruised by life.
I realised my destiny was to try and “Bridge the Gap” for others. Since 2016, I lobbied extensively for system changes, promoting a more compassionate approach to supporting GPs.
Highlighting that time away from work due to illness, injury, disability or adverse life events, - these are not choices - but realities of human life, that can make returning to work very challenging.
In the unforgiving NHS environment of high stress and high workload, individuals can really struggle to reintegrate, and re-find the joy in work, more so if initial attempts have been unsuccessful, or even undermined, by others.
I created a kinder way for GPs to resume work safely, in a manner tailored specifically to their own needs at the time. There is no “protocol”. We lead from the heart, and the return to work map is designed together, over time.
It is an absolute joy to help my GP colleagues to re-find their path, and professional self-worth.
Welcome Back to Work is all about the individual, not the system.
It is an absolute joy to help my GP colleagues re-find their path and their professional self-worth.
It was just obvious we had to work together
It was immediately obvious that Lucy and Penny share the same values about people, their stories and how these can shape their lives. There is a clear connection from both of their expertise in the workplace; how rigid, corporate systems create negative practices and barriers that are detrimental to peoples wellbeing.
Since the start in 2016 it has never been about statistics or placing people back into jobs that don’t suit them. It has been all about using Lucy and Penny’s experiences to understand others in a similar situation. Through conversations and listening they develop a deeper understanding of the needs of every individual that comes to the welcome back to work programme. Their flexible, empathetic approach teamed with their knowledge of the health care industry has become the backbone of this programme. Both Lucy and Penny are driven to make a genuine difference to help GPs take steps in getting back to work.
There is nothing innovative about being kind, utilising strengths and valuing people. It is simply what we all deserve.
Being a practice manager was one of the best times of my career. The way I could work with the team, take time to explore peoples strengths and apply this to deliver primary care services was a revelation. I also know what its like to be on the receiving end of negative behaviours in the workplace and how this impacted my confidence and self belief. Since starting my consulting business in 2015 I have been able to focus my attention on my interests in people. People are the most valuable asset an organisation can have and helping individuals tap into their talents, and treating them as a person means everyone flourishes and I love it!
We receive a small amount of funding from Suffolk & North East Essex STP to support GPs within their locality. If you are a GP outside of the Suffolk & North East Essex area we can help you request funding from your CCG.
If you are a CCG who would like to run a Welcome Back to Work Programme in your area please get in touch.
We are always seeking additional and alternative funding so we can extend what we do. If you wold be able to support the Welcome Back to work Programme please get in touch.