Help/advice needed

I think someone posted on this site some weeks ago that asthma was a condition that could not be counted as part of sickness absence- am I correct or cracking up?!

The reason I ask is that I work in the public health sector as a nursing assistant but I have had four periods of time off sick in recent months- a fall where a fracture was suspected; a severe migraine where I spent most of the day vomiting; a slip at work hurting my back and a chest infection and acute flare up of asthma which still isn't under control- it was diagnosed in October last year and I'm presently on Duoresp Spiromax but I'm still coughing and wheezing. I am seeing the asthma nurse again next week.

My manager told me yesterday that I would have to have a joint meeting with HR and herself to discuss the matter.

As you can guess I feel pretty anxious and rather frustrated as one of my times off sick was due to an accident at work which was not my fault.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :-)

11 Replies

  • It's nonsense to say asthma can't be counted, it's an illness end of story.

    However it sounds like you've simply fallen foul of the run of the mill public sector absence management system. If they are doing it right, there will be an agenda for the meeting set out in their policy, which should include an opportunity for you to explain the pattern of illness, raise any concerns (e.g. stress, Health & Safety, etc.) & also query if you feel that there are any (reasonable) adjustments that could be made to support you to be able to work effectively.

    My advice, having had to carry out a lot of similar kinds of thing is try not to be too worked up & don't be hostile to the process. Explain that you're committed to working but your health is a concern to you. Say what you are doing to manage it (medication, etc.) & how you feel collectively you can best manage it together. A good manager will respond well to that, a bad one will simply play into your hands if you have to take matters further.

  • Thanks for your reply. I'm not hostile to the process just worried 

  • Have you read their policy on absence management? I'd do that & prepare for how you want to deal with each bit. If they 'spring' anything on you, ask for time to think about it, there shouldn't be any surprises.

    If you are in a union, have a chat with your rep.

  •  I have been in touch with the RCN  but am still waiting a response as I had to email them due to my voice being so croaky at present! I really appreciate your advice :-)

  • I work in the NHS at ward management level and had about 3 months off in one go due to newly diagnosed asthma and I  spent almost 5 years with poor attendance. 

    It sounds like you've reached a trigger with episodes of time off. A meeting with HR is part and parcel of usual policy. Asthma is covered under the equality act 2010 which can protect you to a point. Have you had an occupational health referral yet? It can be used to support you, check if anything about your work is exacerbating your health etc

      Falls, migraines & back injuries sound like bad luck (not meaning to belittle them)  from a sickness perspective. A manager can exercise discretion to not activate a trigger on the sickness policy. The trouble is that occasionally these policies give the impression of intimidation rather than being a supportive process.

    Try to be calm, these policies are there to try and get the best out of a workforce and to keep those with health problems in work for as long as possible with support. 

  • I sympathise, I am in same boat. My next review meeting is at end of month. Involve your Union, they have been so helpful to me. Your employer must make reasonable adjustments so there may be things they can do to help. 

    Good luck 

  • Thanks Elsie for your advice :-) Quietchest - I trust all goes well for you 

  • I would take a friend or a union rep with you. It will feel a lot less intimidating. 

  • That's what I'm thinking of doing Kart.  No date fixed yet though.  I will be relieved when it's all over 

  • I see you say you're on Duoresp. Have you alway been on this? I was switched on to this in October and I've just been switched back on to symbicort, as Duoresp wasn't effective enough. When you see your asthma nurse it might be asking about alternatives as you've said your asthma isn't managed. Good luck.

  • Hi! I'm seeing the asthma nurse again on Tuesday and I'm going to tell her that the Duoresp is making me worse rather than better! I'm coughing more than previously and my chest feels all raspy and I sound like a female Rod Stewart now :-)

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