Articles and Case Studies

When Doctors Go on Leave

01 Dec 2017

Woman with a slightly worried look on her face

Taking leave from work? Congratulations on looking after your own health. Before you go, you must take steps to maintain continuity of your patients’ care.

These steps will vary depending on practice circumstances, but there are some commonly applicable measures.

Tips when going on leave

  • Another doctor (or doctors) should be tasked with checking all your results and letters, and documenting actions following from these.
  • It is more sensible to have a single nominated GP look at all incoming items, rather than a GP for results and a non-GP for clinical correspondence.
  • Make sure you have flagged all patients requiring follow-up in the practice’s system (for example, using the recalls function in Medical Director or Best Practice). Those requiring follow-up include patients you are concerned may have a serious condition and you have sent for tests or to see a specialist.
  • Another doctor(s) should be tasked with monitoring this follow-up. Make a list of these patients and discuss them with the doctor taking this role before you go. Emphasise any patients you are particularly concerned about or who are particularly anxious themselves.
  • Contact arrangements for mature minors needing follow-up should be relayed to staff, e.g. “Only call mobile – not home phone – issue being treated with patient only”.
  • Arrange for an appropriate staff member to read and action any mail, email and faxes that come in for you. 
  • Tell patients that you will be away, who will be available for them, and when you will be back.
  • Allocate time on your return for going through the list of patients of concern and seeing what eventuated while you were away.
  • Remember your notes will be looked at by other doctors if they see the patient or need to confirm details – ensure your documentation is thorough enough to allow another doctor to take over care of the patient.
  • Advise administrative and nursing staff who will be looking at your results and letters.

Communication with Colleagues, Doctors Health and Wellbeing, General Practice


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