Asthma UK community forum

Potential job threat loss due to asthma, any advice please?!


I potentially face the risk of losing my job- my asthma has been really bad over the last 2 years particularly and have had 5-6 months off sick in total this year alone- 9 weeks over the summer and the same at the mo. my worry is that I could lose my job as there are definate rumblings- I did meet with HR in the summer who said it would be a last resort but.. it could happen.I work as a nurse and wondered if anybody else has been in a similar situation? Luckily i have spoken to my union who are great and so is my manager, but it is beyond her control. when I do get back to work I will have to go via occ. health and then take it from there. Looking on the blackside-if I did lose my job- are you retired through ill health or sacked??Sorry for the essay, but it is a constant worry as I guess if I did lose it i would be unemployable again- and would have to look at total life change. Do you qualify for any benefits initially?

Any advice would be great thanks!

20 Replies

Hi I have just gone through been redeployed after nursing for 24years I was putat risk by Hr and had to apply for jobs. I now workas an receptionist which is alot better for me. My unionwere very helpful. Hope you get on ok


hi fi Im so sorry to hear you to are in this impossible situation. Ive been a brittle asthmatic for years and told my current employer in interview that i had brittle asthma. It was never an issue till i had 6months last year and almost all year this year! There were rumblings last year i was going to loose my job but i returned to work and everything continued as it always had though each time i felt unwell i dragged myself into work despite not feelin myself. Im sure your feeling the same now. I returned to early and tried to continue regardless of being poorly and made myself worse. The stress work has put on me this year also hasn't helped the old chest!

One thing i would say is that in my experience the nhs are particularly bad at handling these situations and i am currently going through the 3rd and final stage of the nhs sickness absence procedure. Ive had all year to get used to the fact that my health is most important !! Have you got a trade union rep at all. Mine is with amicus unite and is fab without her i dont know what i would have done! Im sure i would have lost my job a long time ago without her help. My only advice would be that you need to be well before you go back to work! If the worst happens there are things you can do. Have you claimed any benefits at all.

If i can be of anymore help as someone who is possibly going to be retired on ill health grounds in the next few months then please feel free to private message me and i will try and help you more. Sorry your also in this horrid situation fi.

Take care lv kat Xxx


Thanks so much for advice

It is so reassuring from a selfish point of view!!that there are other people in the same boat as me!I'm in the RCN and have already been in contact with them which is great. i know what you mean about going in/back to work too early and making yourself worse- I had a 6 week phased return in the autumn and imagine I will have to have another phased return after this bout- you feel so guilty for your work colleagues, even though they are fantastic. I will definately explore the redeployment option as this has been mentioned previously- i was working part time as a specialist nurse in minor illness but gave that up 2 years ago as it wasn't exactly making me well examining ill people all the time- saying that I now work as a health visitor and still end up having heaps of time off- so a rethink would be a good option- it's hard having to except the fact that your health interferes with your career as well as your life. thanks for the reply too kitkat very kind and will keep things posted. I hope you are on the mend at the moment.



Sorry- memory lapse!

Thanks again Kitkat and Sharon- forgot to say that so far I've been on sick pay, but not sure when it will drop- very soon I should think. I've not claimed any benefits. i know what you both mean about health being the most important thing- it's true but also worrying when you think about the future!!

love Fi


my best advice fi is that if your expecting your sickpay to drop or to stop get claiming sooner rather than later i claimed back in june for everything as i was on sickpay only till july its only now i have received anything from the dss. The process is a long complex and very slow one but do not be put off your health comes first and worrying about money will not help you!

Please let me no if i can help you any further. Lv kat Xxxx


Hi Fi, i had to give up my job last May, after fighting hard to keep going but it got to the point that I was at work one day and in ITU the next and then off work for 5 months and then would manage a few weeks back before the cycle started again.

I already got DLA but applied for Incapacity Benefit which I duly got. I have just, today, got Council Tax benefit. I was fortunate because I was able to make some money on a property which I sold and have been able to top up my DLA and IB from my savings.

I found it very hard to give up work. I actually resigned because i wanted to have my options open, although my sickness record would put off any potential employer. However, recent events have meant that I am no longer going to be able to comtemplate going back to work so am having to re think at the moment.

Stopping work is a complete life change but it doesn't have to be for the worst. If you want to chat any more about this please message me.




Sorry to hear what you are going through, although I am in a kind of similar position. I have brittle asthma and had almost 5 yrs off, was back for3 weeks, off for a week back for 2 and off for a week again and now been back 2 weeks. I work for the NHS as an auxiliary nurse and the trust that I work for, especially from my matron and my ward manager, have been fantastic so far and have been helping me to be at work, albeit not in my job at themoment but still on my ward but doing my managers kind of office work for her, but its something....I have occ health tomorrow and I have to see what they have to say for themselves...But we have just had a new sick policy brought in where they look at the people who are having the time off sick as odd days here and there with different things, rather than the people who are off with a long term illness.

Hope you get it sorted soon

Take care


Hi Fi,

I eventually lost my job after fighting to keep it for 4 years. In the final year I was only there for 3 months amd that was in dribs and drabs. I was on no pay and claiming incapacity benfit and DLA. I was referred to Occupational Health and they said i was too ill to carry out my duties and I was given the option of leaving on health grounds with a very small pension or being sacked for inefficiency. I was amazed that they were allowed to that in this day and age but I checked it out and right enough they could. I was devastated. Looking back it was the right decsion - I was not well enough to to work and the constant struggle to try and go in when ill was making me worse. I also felt guilty that my colleagues were having to cover for me when i was not there.

So if the worst happens and you do get paid off just concentrate on your health - it really is the most important thing - but make sure that you are claiming all the benefits that you are entitled too - DPA and the new Employment Support Allowance. My old job involved a knowledge of benefits and I would be happy to advise if you would like.

I feel fortunate it has been a long fight but my asthma has improved and this week I started a completly different job which is desk based and 2 days a week for the moment but I am getting a back to work credit to boost my weekly income.

Good luck Jane


Is this an NHS thing?

I'm sure there has been a thread before about NHS staff loosing their jobs for having asthma.

Surely we have some rights, what happenend to discrimination.

I too work for the NHS and have my fifth appointment with occ health on monday. I've had 6-7 months off work every year for the past 4 years since developing brittle asthma. Like so many of you I have a few weeks off then go back to work too early and end up being off again. My consultant advised I have 3 months off work, which I did and was much better. Occ health are looking into allergies in the work place.

I claim DLA but nothing else, I'm sure if I was to be finished I would not get anything like I earn and would then end up loosing my house. It is easy to say your health comes first but in reality money is more important!

Best wishes

Truly x



I appreciate the statement that you made about health coming first but what about your house. I have had absolutly no income now since june. Had only ssp since march due to the amount of time i had off last year. This has meant that since july i haven't paid my mortgage, my house is now worth less than i paid for it the bank are hounding me for money im waiting for from the dss, my boss is hounding me to return to work, ive spent since feb in costa del nhs with only 3wks at home and the stress is to put it mildly affecting me a huge amount.

I stand by what i said your health is more important after being critically ill several times this year i have learnt to reevaluate my priorities in life which to put it mildly were frankly skrewed up before. I always put my job and collegues first at the detriment of my health and wellbeing. Whats more important than your health. No amount of bricks are any good if your not here - wise words my mum said to me earlier this year!

I do as i said earlier sympathise with

everyone in this sitatation because im still stuck in it myself. Im hoping to get my agenda for change back pay soon ie march april next year but im hoping to cling on till then. Im not so lucky on redeployment. Cant as im a specialist and would need retraining. My only hope is to go back to uni and top up my degree so i can teach! This i cant entertain right now so please im not trying to be harsh but its a difficult and emotive subject which has caused me a lot of stress this year as i love my job so though i understand where your coming from feel that people do need to put their health first! Im sorry but i try and keep a positive slant on things as life can often suck with brittle asthma but after having it all my life its one thing i have got used to struggling with. Mortgage worries and job worries are all very new to me!

Sorry if ive offended anyone ive edited this post 3 times now and still not sure ive worded it right so i apologise if i have offended anyone but please can we try being positive and supportive to folks its a pants situation to be in but as my mum said to me if i continue to battle to work to keep my house at the detriment of my health im not going to be here to appreciate what ive worked so hard for.

There is help out there seek it out and ASK for it! Take care all lv kat Xxxx


Gosh it is a hot potato and an emotive topic. It's so hard to view things objectively, money is always a worry, but I took quite a big pay cut 2 years ago due to my asthma and having to change jobs, although financially it's been harder (luckily I have a partner, so it's easier than being on your own) my health did benefit....- (but not this year!) and i did feel better for it. It was a really hard decision to accept that I had to work part time and not doing what I had wanted to and spent years and toil training for!!other people had been telling me for ages that i should change jobs, but it took a good while for me to realise that I needed to.

I have now come to the decision that ultimately my health has to come first- but I will be devastated if I lose my job, because you have to accept your asthma is severe and impacts on things in a big way which I hate. Also it's the thought of ""what do I do"" I would be unemployable so would have to try and think of things to do on a self employed/working from home basis, which would be a challenge to say the least!!

Here's hoping we all have a better year next year- it's about time!

Love Fi x


Oh dear, have I stirred up a can of worms.

Unfortunately kitkat I cannot and will not put my health first, my family and children have to come first. Being a single parent I am the only person who can provide for them and so must do so. I cannot pay a mortgage bills provide food for my children on a hundred pound a week

my health will be far worse if i am homeless and sleeping rough



hi truly

Im sorry if i offended you just that its a difficult time for me to. As a single person living in my own mortgaged house im not entitled to anything really.

I was told if i had children they'd put me in a council house but as im single and have no children im not a priority so would have to stay in a shelter till something came up should i loose my house. Also cant have any help with gas or electric bills as my bill is direct debit not a coin metre. Also cant have any crisis loans to help me pay for said bills as i have got my own house they wont help me with mortgage interest but would pay rent on a council house which i have already been told im not eligable for!! Its a difficult situation to be in for anyone who faces it but in my experience those with people to support do better out of the system than those who dont. I really do hope you get some financial help you will be entitled to some. Citizens advice are fairly good sometimes! Take care lv kat Xxxx


Believe me having children does not give automatic entitlement to ""benefits"". I have been in the ""potential job threat"" situation for 8 years, spending 6-9 months a year off sick, half of that ventilated. Having researched the ""benefit"" route throughly I too would end up having my house repossessed and would be placed in B&B accomodation whilst the council found suitable accomodation.

The stark reality is that people need money to survive and maintain the health they have however poor it is.

It is good that everyone has their own opinion and experience and that makes this forum the great forum it is.

Good luck

Truly x


Truly I agree when you have kids its hard and i too put the kids before my health and listen to the lectures about how they need their mum, thats fine but they need food too.

I gave up work with the nhs 3ish years ago and have been really well for the last year but went back to work, self employed in Sept. it took ten weeks for me to end up in hospital.

I've not cleared my infection and am still in pain yet know i have to go back to work on Jan 6th. I have to keep going we need the money.

Fi-I found the nhs really supportive before i decided to leave in arranging through occ health flexi working and reduction of hours. I know your a HV could you reduce your regular hours but top up doing nights as general bank staff or something so you work lots of shifts when well and less when not well?



Hi Fi

I was in exactly the same position and its very scary and you feel very targeted well i did anyway. Asthma is an actual disability and while working you can apply for disability living allowance and still work at the same time and if your really bad you can apply for incapacity benefit and you dont work with this due to ill health. Your employer should try and help meet you half way with anything they can do to help you like for example heat and a chair if required to help support your lungs if they get sore and also could help you with breaks like sit down when required or give you paper work when required so your not using energy and breath. Or go to other departments less busy on bad days. Even when applying for the job you didnt state you had a disabilty you can still gain one throughout your employement in a job. DLA normally takes about ten weeks to be confirmed but it is back date and so is incapacity benefits. I hope this helps and everything works out



Potential job loss threat

Thanks to everyone for the replies- really useful info. I went to occ. health today had originally hoped to go back to work tomorrow on a phased return but that was a bit keen and unrealistic!!Am off for another 2-3 weeks....or however long it will take, have been off about 10 weeks now I think, slowly getting better but still very erratic. My boss is very supportive and am hoping that when I eventually do go back to work I may be able to be redeployed in another job if I can't continue in my current one. In terms of benefit up until now I have still been on ""normal"" sick pay not SSP but I know that will change anytime- so presumably would than need to look at applying for benefit? It's really tricky because when I am well I''m fine athough I'm on loads of meds, but when I'm unwell I'm quite poorly- there's no inbetween, so in terms of claiming for benefits it could be quite hard??

Anyway, thanks again to everyone- will keep you posted and for anybody else out there I hope they stay well and we can keep our job!

Love Fi


Hi Fi

Your post seems a little less stressed and I am please for you, I sincerely hope that things work out for you and you remain in employment. Like you in between attacks and bad periods pretty good, but don't see this as a problem should you be forced to apply for benefits, DIAL UK a charity thats helps people with disabilities helped me when I was forced to give up work many moons ago. I was told that when you apply for benefits relating to disability you always fill out the forms taking into account your worse day!

Wishing you and your family the very best for 2009

Katina and Lottie DOg


Hey fi

Hows the job front, ive been on the sick from october 15th and im being called in for a meeting and im freaking out in case i get sacked but ive been told that this cant happen when your submitting sick lines and ive been assured my my employer its just to reintroduce me into the work place but i dont think im ready because i took another asthma attack which is two in less than a week, so i called the benefits people who told me i need to be on long term sick which is sick months before i get incapatiy benefit and there is not a break what bout your local citizens advice. seriously hope you feel better soon and get things sorted all my love vee x


Potential job threat loss

Hi Vee

I hope you're feeling a bit better and not too stressed out. DO you belong to a union at all because if so it may be worth having a chat to them about the meeting proposed re: review. As far as I understand(but that's not saying a lot!!) when you are on sick leave they cannot reprimand/address issues with you. I'm in a nursing union who are great, but it may be worth you just getting some advice or again maybe CAB?Thanks for the info re benefits and the 6 month business, that is ringing a bell with me this space, let's hope it's positive for both of us and we end up well and off steroids and thinner!!!

Take care

love Fi


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