NHS Career Breaks - Any HR people with advice?

Hi all,
My daughter is 10 months old and I was supposed to be returing to work in a couple of months but have decided on a "career break" for a couple of years. The NHS offer these and hold your job open.
I have been told (By my manager who doesn't really know her arse from her elbow!) that I still have to return to work for the 3 months before starting my break.
If I was to leave the NHS then I would be expected to return for 3 months or pay back my maternity pay but surely as I'm only taking a career break I'm still employed by the NHS??
Head office have just said "Talk to your manager"!!

Any HR bods out there that can advise?
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