Occupational health assessment good or bad?

Hi all I'm writing for a bit of advice and piece of mind really. I've been off work for over a week I had a viral infection and I literally couldn't make it out of bed. Prior to Christmas I had meningitis and I feel that I've never got back to my usual self since then and Everytime I get something it knocks me out for ages. I seem to be struggling massively lately with exhaustion and headaches I spoke to my rhemy about it and she said to "pace myself" and rest as much as possible. I teach so this is really difficult as no day is peaceful! So since returning to work I've requested to reduce my hours to help me manage my symptoms better and they have said they can only do this with the advice of occupational health. I had to give in a form which requested me to disclose all my medical records. I felt quite reluctant to do that as I have history of depression and I teach and feel worried it will have a negative reflection on me as a teacher (which is what I do) has anyone here had dealings with occupational health? I'm worried that I won't be able to have my hours reduced and every day is going to be a constant struggle for me. Do occupational health reports support what u need or favour the employer more? I'm scared I'll have to remain on full hours and not be able to complete my work to the best of my ability because I don't feel 100% Feel a bit lost at the moment thank you all for your help

13 Replies

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  • Hi Fairydust11,

    I work for the health service and 4 months ago returned to work after 9 months off. I attended Occ Health for that time and found them wonderful. Basically they are there to support you through your illness and intervene on your behalf. They can help your manager to understand your illness and make reasonable adjustments. I too have a history of anxiety and depression but wasn't stigmatised due to this.

    At the end of my 3 month phased return I reduced my hours from 3 long days to 2 a week, my manager has been fine about this. I have been very open with my manager about my illness and she appreciates that. I have also promised that if it is ever felt I am not up to my job anymore ( I work in ITU, both physically and mentally hard ) then I will take redeployment.

    Good luck with your assesment.

    Keyes

  • Hi Fairydust11

    Lovely name you've chosen. I've got no experience of Occupational Health but I'd just like to say that if you need further help with dealing with your employer then your local Citizen's Advice Bureau is the place to go to or contact. They have specialist employment advisors.

    I hope you can work less hours soon and feel better.X

  • I had the support of occupational Health and they were amazing. I recommend you follow that route.x

  • Hi Fairydust. I worked for central government and had the same fears as you when I was asked to attend OH after a long period of sickness absence; I thought this was the start of a dismissal process. However I found them to be helpful and I certainly think a far better result was achieved than had they not been involved. That is, I was able to have a realistically phased return to work, after which I reduced my hours, etc, to much better meet my health needs - and ensure I could give a good service to my employer.

    HR would, I think, have walked all over me if OH hadn't been involved! (OH's support and intervention ensured that I did get 'reasonable adjustments'.) This said, I prepared very carefully for my appointment, thinking about what I could/couldn't do in various contexts; my symptoms and how they affected my ability to work; what would allow me to perform better, etc.

    As others have said, Citizen's Advice is there for you. Plus JobCentre Plus may have an advisor who is skilled to help, or who can point you in the right direction, should you need it. And if your employer isn't supportive (although, given that their procedures include OH, I would hope they will be), remember there is also your Union and ACAS.

  • Hi Mrs Mouse

    Just read your reply to Fairydust. I am due an OH meeting and would be grateful for any advice regarding "getting prepared". Any pointers would be helpful

    Many thanks

  • Hi alexred. When is your OH meeting? I'm now caught up for the next few days, but main suggestions in brief:

    I imagine OH will undoubtedly want to see all supporting written medical evidence, if that hasn't already been provided by your GP or consultant. They'll also want to know about your medications and dosage.

    If you can, try to be calm and concise, but also comprehensive. This can take a bit of preparation and, if I were in your position (and I can only give a personal view), I would:

    Make a list of symptoms - perhaps organising them by usual, common, less common, most problematic, etc - so you don't have to rack your brains or miss anything out.

    Think carefully about what you can and can't do and why. One way to do this might be for you to think through an average (and also a worse) day and associated symptoms/difficulties, breaking down what can be done - at task level, if necessary and not just in your role/at work. So, for example, if it takes you a long time to get out of bed and get down stairs, due to pain, etc, ensure you don't overlook this - rather than perhaps mentioning, 'well, I get up and go downstairs'. Be ready to talk about what makes things worse, how long you can do things for, how long it takes for you to recover from doing certain things i.e. your limits as well as your abilities, at present.

    Be careful not to underplay things, particularly fatigue; unfortunately no medals or rewards are offered for a 'stiff upper lip', as far as I'm aware!

    Very importantly go into the meeting with a very good idea of what you are hoping to get out of it. So if that were to be a change in working practices, then have a good think about exactly what you are hoping for, with evidence to back this up e.g. if early mornings are really tough for you, as per my example earlier, maybe a later start time could be arranged. It will probably be a process of negotiation but a decent OH adviser should be looking carefully at your condition, how it affects you, and what might be done to help you and your employer get the best out of you - and you need to have thought about this carefully beforehand.

    If you have qualms, get in touch with those who can help e.g. your union (might be worth joining if you are not already a member), Citizen's Advice, any employee phone support service that you might have access to.

    Only my thoughts, but may be of help. Wishing you the very best.

  • Hi Fairydust, From observing others that needed occupational health when I was a social worker it proved good. From my experiences of talking to others....they are definitely on your side so to speak and about promoting your health. I guess if you teach it will be your local county council and they should definitely be good. Furthermore your employers I think have to listen to their advice and act on this. Please do go to this appointment as I think you have nothing to lose and more to gain....good luck x

  • Thank you all so so much for putting my mind at ease and being so supportive! I feel alot more secure now. Thank you all so much ill keep you posted on how I get on :)

    xx

  • Occ health are there for you. My employer (also a school although I'm a TA not a teacher) has actually encouraged me to get them involved to make sure they are doing all the need to to support me in my job. I haven't yet, as I'm managing ok for the moment. Id def get them involved though if I was in your position and needing to change my working hours. They will also assess your working conditions to see if there are any changes that can be made to help you manage your condition and continue to carry out your job. Good luck!

  • Hi FAirydust....l am a teacher too and had been off more than in since JANUARY. OH are very supportive their role is to help and advise with a focus of return to work. I was relieved to hear that l was not fit for work in their view for guilt/expectations make you feel that you should be at work...

    Your union can offer advice too ...there is a national helpline as well as your local group..and they have lots of experience

    I too find this site so supportive ...its good to know their are people who understand when you say you are so fatigued, coping with ongoing pain and have yet more gp/hospital appointments...

    Take care and dont be pressured by others....be kind to yourself and remember you are the expert on how this condition affects you

    Gentle hugs

  • Hi I have been through the occupational health process recently. The first assessment was conducted by a health advisor who was not medically trained. I took a friend with me who took notes and also a list of general medical conditions, when they started, name/address of GP & consultants and a list of things that cause a problem at work. They wrote to my GP and both consultants after I gave written permission. I contacted all my doctors and asked to see their reports before they were sent so that I could make sure information was accurate and ask for amendments. I then had a telephone consultation with a OH doctor who wanted to send a report direct to my employer without sending it to me. I said no as I wanted to see the report and check it first. Once Occ Health have sent their report to your employer you can't change it except through the appeals process. Hence the need to make sure it is correct in the first place. Occ Health will not send a detailed report about your medical condition - what they do send is a general report to help your employer regarding your work.

    If your employer asks for a report directly from your doctor then they would give more medical details but they would still have to ask for your permission. Hope this helps. Make sure you take a friend with you each time.

  • That's really helpful mirabel. thank you all for taking the time to write your replies it really has helped me x

  • Hi

    I have had to take time off recently due to serious family problems. These problems have been getting me down a bit and my employer said to take time off. I was asked if I would go to occupational health over this to which I agreed. What will happen at the appointment? Never been off sick like this before so I do not know what to expect.

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