Flexible Working

I Am Glad That I Chose LTFT, As It Suits My Family Life

Dr Nigel Lewis

I am a cardiologist and in January 2020 I chose work more flexibly to provide childcare for my 3 children who were 1, 6 and 8 years at the time. This involved condensing my working week into 4 days. Working within an entirely male consultant department, I was the first to request this working pattern. I negotiated this with my clinical director, who was very supportive.

I have been a consultant nearly 7 years at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and I have sub-specialty interests in complex devices, inherited cardiac conditions (ICC) and heart failure (HF). I work within 3 sub-specialty teams and have a flexible working week, so that all services are cross-covered. My Fridays free when I’m not on-call. I provide 1 in 12 on-call general cardiology cover, 1 in 10 out of hours on-call pacing and 1 in 12 ‘consultant of the week’ ward cover. I generally will perform 2 device lists per week and on alternate weeks, perform device extractions. I am committed to 2 clinics a week, in both ICC and a mixed heart failure and device clinic. I participate in a number of MDTs, provide support to specialist nurses in ICC and HF and deal with device queries from the physiologists pre- and post-implant. Working 4 days has not hindered my ability to participate in additional professional commitments. I am a principle investigator for a number of clinical trials and have recently recruited a full-time device fellow.

Due to my wide specialist interests, I have always had a busy schedule. Working flexibly with my peers has allowed me to meet the number of annualised sessions required in my job plan. There are huge advantages to having a day off with a young family. It allows me to see my children more and share more of their early years development, but also gives me more opportunity to be more involved with schooling. It gives much more balance to my life and allows me to have individual time with my youngest son.

However, working less than full time, whilst doing a full time job remains hard work. One has to be more efficient and organised, particularly when completing administrative work or providing support and feedback to colleagues. I quickly learnt as a consultant, that the admin and emails always keeps coming and that this does not stop on the Fridays that I am not there. This makes the start of my week busier and you have to be prepared to work harder to complete tasks and sometimes stay later. Through the pandemic, remote working has become much more acceptable and has facilitated many of us to access work via secure laptops from home. This has further facilitated me completing my work flexibly, although I have to remain strict about when to turn the laptop off at home.

I am glad that I chose to do this, as it suits my family life. I feel very fortunate to have understandable colleagues and a department that now supports flexible working. Since doing this, colleagues have also expressed an interest to do the same.

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