occupation health appointment tomorrow - any ideas what this might be like?

Hi,

I am looking for advice on how these things go...

My work have arranged an appointment with an occupation health physician tomorrow at my local hospital.

They say this is necessary for them to assess whether I am fit for work.

My doctor has signed me off work,so not sure why I need this appointment but hey ho.

I have never seen an occupational health physician before and wonder what this is going to be like.

I am concerned as work have said they are not happy with me being off ill and only allowed back to work to do admin duties ( of which I have many), although my job is mainly hands on scientific work with dangerous chemicals, I am a team leader and as such have a lot of admin I can be doing. but work are not happy with this.

Therefore I am concerned they are trying to get rid of me - is this normal or is this occupational health appointment the first step in kicking me out?

Would welcome any thoughts from anyone who has been in a similar situation and knows what these sorts of appointments are like.

Sorry for the short notice - I completely forgot about it until my husband mentioned he had taken the morning off work to take me there, one painful day sort of merges with another - I have given up counting the days of no sleep so it all seems the same to me :-)

24 Replies

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  • Sorry I can't answer your question but am just sending gentle hugs and wishing you good luck for tomorrow.

    Hugs

    Jillyxx

  • Thank-you Jilly - sending big hugs back to you too :-)

  • Hi there, I haven't seen an occupational health physician but I have been attending occupational health meetings every four weeks since I have been off work. At each meeting I have been asked how things are and about what medication I am on and that gets written into a report and sent to my employer. I am seeing a physician on Thursday to decide whether I am able to retire on grounds of ill health or not. I am a bit apprehensive about it I have to say.

  • Hi Lruk, Thank-you for your reply, I do appreciate it.

    I have only worked for this organisation since 2012, (although I have been doing my role for many years now) I cannot imagine they are thinking of retirement for me, more like the chopping block :-)

    If the physician is just going to ask about my medication the whole thing seems to be a bit of a waste - I am open with my work and they know exactly what meds I am on, what the side effects are in regards to what I can and cannot do (cannot: drive / operate machinery / handle chemicals) - not that I can do that anyway because of the crippling pain in my back and arms, I tell them when I see my physio - the blood tests and their results, and so on. There is nothing like that that he could ask me that they do not already know.

    it all seems a bit weird to me.

  • Your employer cannot simply get rid of you. What the occ health doc might be doing is assessing what you can and can't do. I also have to meet with my boss after each occ health meeting to go over the same things again, which I find pointless but also distressing. The report that the occ health doctor will produce should let your workplace see what reasonable adjustments they need to make to accommodate you. The only way they can get rid off you is if they can prove you are unable to do your job even with reasonable adjustments.

  • Hi! Whilst I was off work I still had to see the works doctor even though I was under a consultant & receiving sick notes from my own doctor. They eventually pensioned me off due to ill health at 47 & I had a form to fill out every year to say my condition hadn't improved & had to see the works doctor once a year for checkups until I reached retirement age. If your company doesn't have their own doctor perhaps it's the same procedure with an OHP they are basically covering their own backs by having an assessment other than your own doctor he reason they gave for pensioning me off was I would not be able to evacuate the building in case of an emergency ie fire as my office was located on the second floor and it would not be viable to accommodate me on the first floor as I needed to be where the department was located. xx ((( HUGS )))

  • Hi HIlary,

    Thank-you for your reply - my work have also raise dhte issue of whether I could evacuate during a fire - seems like a common concern for employers.

  • The oh Dr I saw was very nice and on my side. He said if or when I return they would ha en to make adjustment for me.

    My works just sacked me after a few months as I was still waiting treatment nhs.

    Oh were on my side but I never got ill health finished. I would speak to citens advice to know your rights ' just in case.

    I hope things work out ok ..hugs

  • Hi Twinks,

    Thank-you for your reply. I am sorry to hear that work sacked you - that is terrible To be honest I htik that is what my work is after - a reason to sack me, as they are not happy I am off ill. The appointment was rather bad - she did not ask me how I was coping or what I had trouble with, she just asked me to describe the pain and where it was, but spent most of the time covering whether work were safe from me sueing hem ( which I had never mentioned or intended)

    Can I ask - if this is not too personal - did your work give a reason for sacking you? Just wondering where my own plight may be going and if there is a specific type of illness they can just sack you with or if it is one of those things where they just make things up to get rid of someone who is ill.

  • I've sent you a pm , if that's ok

  • I had one today. They ask you about medication , treatment. How bad you have been, how your managing now. They are very nice. They do ask what you struggle with and how you cope with stress etc. hope this helps xxx nothing to worry about xx

  • Hi, try not to worry about this. I had a few of these with a former employer and always found the doctor was on my side. They want to assess how your illness limits your ability to perform your tasks and, from there, they report on what they think you can realistically be expected to do and any adjustments they think your employer should make to accommodate you. If they think it applicable, they can state you should be considered as disabled under the DDA, giving you additional protection. Although I found my employer continued to try and push the guidelines the OH reports gave me a lot more security. Good luck with your appointment today x

  • Hi there don't know much about things but what I do know if an official voice confirmed that you'd be limited in your role and that admin was all you should be doing then yes they might be able to let you go but then again they might have to offer you the admin and it may support it instead of letting you go so it may not be bad really hope you get that chance to stay there sorry if a bit blunt but hope it helps. Use it to fight to stay have you a union then joining might be a good thing just make sure the union is outside of the work place as this was my mistake please hope all's good fibro friend xx

  • Hi Royalspec01,

    Thank-you for your kind reply.

    I was interested in what you said about unions, and in particular about getting one outside the workplace.

    I am currently in a union, but I can only be a member of one of 2 unions that are recognized by my workplace ( which I am)

    Would you say that because they are recognized that is a bad thing, or are you referring to something else when you say outside the workplace? Please excuse if this sounds rather basic but being a union member is new to me - have only been a member for a couple of years and this is the first time I have needed them so not sure what toe expect.

  • good luck for your appointment, keep us posted as to how you get on xxx Lorraine :-)

  • Hi -

    I have now had the occupational health appointment and thought I would update for others who might be going for their first occupational health appointment:

    This is a long one, but mainly beacuse the appointment was a long one.....

    The appointment was at the local hospital - they have a special "occupational health" department ( consists of one room with a waiting room attched the size of a broom cupboard)

    I was the first appointment and thankfully she was only 20 minutes late.

    The appointment took nearly 2 hours - so just to warn anyone who might need to take regular meds - take them with you, you could be there a while.

    The appointment was brusque, the occupational heath physician explained they are trained in employment laws and she acted just like a lawyer.

    She advised me she is a physician, and that her opinion outweighs that of my doctor, and she can dismiss anything my doctor has said, if she chooses to ( at this point both my husband and I looked at each other and silently agreed she was very up herself, and snooty - here's hoping your occupational health physician is a bit more personable)

    The questions they ask are many, and went back to my childhood - I am not a young person and the questions took ages, wanting full details of my family health as well as my own.

    About an hour and a half of questions

    About 20 minutes of telling me her opinion

    About 5 minutes of examination

    About 5 minutes to wrap up.

    She was mainly interested in whether I was going to sue work, if I had a case - I have made it clear from the beginning this is not my intention so found this utterly pointless.

    She decided - without first examining me - that I did not have a slipped disc (or discs - yet to be confirmed), the MRI scan i am having on Friday is pointless and will show nothing, and that my considerable pain is in my head. I queried this and asked why it is then that the pain kicks in when I am fast asleep - she then went on to say that the pain is generated by my brain but I am not in control of it and I need to get in control of it by just getting on wth things and ignoring the crippling, pain.....errrm......

    Then at last she examined me - she was rough - flipping me onto my side without letting me know first and poking me roughly up and down my spine - agiain without informing me.

    I have been examined a lot recently and every other medical professional explains what they about to do so that you do not flinch which causes pain.

    After examining me - she decided there was something wrong with my spine but maintained that the pain I feel is exacerbated because having had depression last year I am susceptible to it and that I am depressed ( without doing the test - she had me take that away to do later)

    Weird thing:

    She kept talking about us not believing what we read in the Daily mail - I am not sure what is in the Daily mail she does not want us to believe or how that relates to my pain - no idea where she got that from, we never mentioned reading any kind of newspaper (my hubby is a tekkie - we get all our news electronically - we do not even read any kind of newspaper) but my husband, who has waist length hair, is 6ft 4 and built like a bear, who was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt , believes she thinks we read the daily mail as apparently that is the newspaper for chavs ( I apologise to any daily mail readers if you find this offensive, it is my husbands opinion - I am afraid I do not know what kind of paper the daily mail is other than friends have complained once or twice to me about the content but I have never read it) and that she thinks we are chavs because of the way he looked, and too stupid to understand what she was explaining to us ( he is lovely, very clever - in the top 1% mensa, well educated and could easily understand any medical terms - but it bugs him when people assume he is stupid because he is a big, muscly man, not sure if that is why she thinks we read the daily mail, or if she just assumes that everybody does?) It was really weird because she said it about 4 or 5 times.

    end of the appointment

    she then writes a letter based on the questions she has asked, and sends it to your workplace. In my case she gave an intermediate letter to me, and asked me to hand it in as she is off on holiday and will not be able to send the report to my boss for a week or so- this is after I had explained to her that I am currently signed off work - at this point we just wanted to get away, so took the letter and left.

    she gave me the depression test paper to take away and fill in, and hand in later ( the test paper is a single sheet where you fill in a set of tick boxes about how you are feeling - seems pretty futile to me - how is anyone in pain going to say they are enjoying life I do not know - does not mean you are depressed, surely)

    Anyway - I was not impressed, she was not interested in how I was doing, just in how I did the injury which lead to my current situation, and whether work was liable.

    She came up with some corkers though, that I thought I would share with you:

    (please note- these were all said to me before she examined me)

    1: Legally your employer is not at fault and you will find this out if this goes to court - as a woman, and at your age you are predisposed to slipped discs and spinal injuries - your spine is weak now, this could have happened at any time and the fact you were lifting oversized over heavy objects does not mean you have a case (remember I made it clear I am not taking any kind of legal action against work and have never said I would and have never raised this with work in any way, also - I am no spring chicken but I am only 40 and normally very physically fit and active, I don't think osteoporosis has kicked in yet!)

    2: you need to carry on through the pain, when your pain gets worse just carry on - it is all in your head and you need to work through it - you have a bad mental habit and it is not going to hurt you physically to just carry on through the pain ( this is the exact opposite of what my physio has told me - he has advised that I need to take rests and listen to my body - if the pain gets bad, I need to have a rest and not overdo things, whilst trying to keep mobile)

    3: I am concerned that you might "get" fibro, as a result of your bad mental habits ( she made it sound like catching the flu, has anyone here caught fibro due to a bad mental habit of stopping what you are doing when the pain gets so bad you nearly pass out? I don't think so!)

    If my husband had not been there I am not sure how I would have coped - i left the appointment feeling very low and had a little cry int he car on the way home when I thought of how she spoke to me, but my hubby pointed out how she had to backtrack a bit when she finally examined me and how sour she looked when she then had to say that perhaps I should have the MRI (but quickly added she did not expect much) - she did look like she was sucking lemons :-)

    Overall thoughts on the experience:

    brusque to the point of rudeness,

    dismissive and disparging

    unhelpful and entirely there to protect your employer with no interest in your wellbeing.

    I hope this is not the experence everyone has - having read the kind replies from others I think perhaps I got a bad one, but thought I would details whislt fresh in my brain banana as these days it could all be dribble by this afternoon!

    Thank-you to everyone for their replies and advice and sharing your experiences - it really does help, newbies like me are never sure what is normal, what is happening to our bodies, or why we feel like we do, and even knowing how to deal with the NHS system regards medicnes and appointments can be tricky and daunting.

  • Oh, now I just read how it went. Oh dear. So it was similar to my own experience in that she was late, she was rude and she didn't offer any helpful advice! I wonder if all Occupational Health nurses are like that?! Sorry it wasn't a happy story for you, but don't let yourself be disheartened by it. It is so discouraging to be questioned by people who make it plain that they neither believe you nor sympathise with you. I believe you and I sympathise!

  • Hi Apple4me,

    thank-you for your kind reply. I am so thankful for the people of this forum - without it I might start to buy into the nonesense that gets thrown at patients when doctors or physicians neither have the inclination / time / experience to cope with patients they cannot instantly diagnose and pigeonhole.

    I just feel so exhausted, having gone to tremendous effort and a lot of pain just to get there - it seemed an utterly wasted experience.

    I am however happy to read that there are good OH physicians out there - perhaps next time I might get one of those.

  • I did have a very good experience with an occupational therapist. Not sure what the difference is between OT and OH. Anyway, with OT I was given lots of useful advice and lots of useful equipment by them after they came out and interviewed me at home. I would recommend OT if your council has them. My consultation and equipment was free.

  • Oh I'm so sorry you had such a terrible experience. What a piece of work! I have to say I have been referred to my works occ health dr many time and am awaiting an appointment to see him again zh I rtly as a result if my latest management hearing for my sickness absence. The occ health is a dream. Such a nice gentle genuine man. in fact he is a damn sight nicer than my own GP who sounds very much like your occ health dr. The phrase "the pain isnt going to kill you" is a favourite. I think its the old good dr bad dr thing again.

    Through the occ health I was assessed for a healthy workstation and have a wonderful chair a d other gadge to help me. As Fybromyalgia comes under the Equality Act the employer is bound to look after us. Your occ health should have known that too.

    I hope you can rest easier tonight now the ordeal is over and that report is truthful and helpful to you xx

  • What a horrendous experience you had, how dare she be so rude and dismissive of what you are going through! Thank goodness you had your husband to support you and didn't have to face that alone. I sincerely hope the doctor I get tomorrow is one of the nice ones. I will post an update once I have been.

  • Hi Mrs Somerset. How did it go? I hope it was ok / helpful. I saw an Occ Health nurse through my work. In theory I think they are supposed to be helpful. In practice, mine wasn't. She had no idea what fibromyalgia even was. She was full of advice on having a 'healthy' working space but she didn't actually know any specific advice for fibro. I found the whole process stressful and exhausting to the point that eventually I just told my work that it wasn't helpful and I didn't want to continue with the OH nurse. I voluntarily went ahead with a change in my contract from virtually full time to (very) part time (8 hours per week). My boss is nice and understood. My OH nurse did give me one bit of advice that I have found useful though: she told me to lose weight! I'm not the type to be offended by such things, thankfully, and her suggestion that I give up wheat, dairy and sugar, not just for weight loss but for pain control, turned out to be excellent advice for me as it finally switched me on to the fact that gluten was causing my IBS. And I have since lost over a stone in weight. Hope yours will be a happy story too!

  • I think in certain employments this is a normal procedure.

    Had you been given more notice maybe you could have requested that the doctor you are going to see actually specialised in Fibro and had a good knowledge of the type of work you do.

    Dont be frightened to ask him/her questions too.

    I wish you luck and i hope all goes well for you xx

  • I am happy to report that the occupational health doctor I saw today was really nice and ver sympathetic. He asked for details of what has happened so far and explained what would happen next. Thankfully some of the people we need to see are like this, but it does make the not so pleasant ones seem worse.

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