Medical confidential

Does anyone know much about confidentiality? I ask because I have returned to work from sick leave. Only my doctor , my sick note , manager and HR knew the reason for my sick leave , but the first two days back everyone seems to know I was off with depression . Whilst one or two have been very caring and offering to sit with me and talk about it , many others take a different view.. I thought your medical records including sick notes were confidential and shouldn't be divulged ? Or is this me thinking wrong? I am just not happy with everyone knowing it's making the day difficult because I am becoming paranoid now that they are all talking about me looking at me as if I am some mental freak


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14 Replies

  • That's a terrible breach of confidentiality in my opinion! As far as I am aware, these matters are kept strictly between your Doctor and as you say, your Manager and HR. I'm not totally convinced that even the Manager should be told but they have no right to discuss it with anyone else and personally, I would speak to HR about this. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of so please don't worry about this, to be honest it's about time people were more aware of this issue but certainly not in this way. You wouldn't expect all and sundry to talk to you about your 'hernia' now would you? (no, you don't have one).

    Best way in my view would be just acknowledge anyone who mentions it and don't go into details if you don't want to. Most of all, look at it as though they are genuinely concerned for you and be pleased about that, please don't allow this to unsettle you.


    tagging Goldfish_

  • Thanks Chloe , I suppose I don't mind people knowing but I wanted to tell them in my own words when I was ready and that had been taken away .. I haven't even told my parents or brother about my illness because I am scared of reactions

    It's made my return to work more difficult because I look at people and think do they feel I am a mental but job or he's a guy going through hard times

    I have my return to work interview tomorrow and don't feel I can raise my anger about this .. I don't want more problems ... I always thought they had to keep these matters confidential by law but not sure . I guess as they employ me they can do what they like . The sad thing is I work for a public sector organisation and should know better

  • Of course, it's your right to tell those that you want to know when you're ready and as you say, that's been taken away.

    I am concerned that you are worried about telling your family, please please don't be. Depression is like any other illness and I really hope that they are understanding and supportive. Depression isn't something that needs to be kept hidden, it's a genuine illness and that doesn't make you or anyone else here 'mental' as you say. You may be very surprised at their reaction and I for one really hope that goes well.

    I completely understand that you don't want to raise this now, especially with your interview. Public Sector or not, doesn't give them the right to do as they like, they should know better.

    Sorry Gazzathomas this sort of behaviour frustrates and infuriates me.

    Tomorrows interview will go well, just be relaxed and positive and do message me whenever you wish, take care.


  • Thanks Chloe and for understanding . My illness is still a battle for me and I don't want to break my mom and dads heart or let my brother down . I have let them down in the past and I don't want to again ..

    I will keep calm tomorrow and just answer the questions . The one question I struggle with that gets asked is what has caused this and the simple answer is I don't really know...

    at the moment all I have i my head is that these people took away my chance to tell people in my own words what I have been going through so that they might understand better what depression is and what it can do to you ... but know I feel I game is now for me to defend myself and justify my illness to people I respect

  • I'm so sorry that has happened and I totally agree with you but remember, you don't have to defend yourself or justify your illness and I do hope you have the chance to discuss this with your family in the way you wanted.

    Just go for it tomorrow, you can do this! remember, you are important and worthy!

  • Chloe your wonderful you say the right words.. I am just scared that I have let my family down .. you see I am one of two the youngest . My older brother is successful and somewhat wealthy , so are my parents and I guess I live in my brothers shadow . He has a wife family good home flashy car . But then me just got me , Simple job no kids no wife and a failure .. that's why I don't want to admit to my family that I am that a total failure I had one job in life and didn't get it right !

    See your clever Chloe you got me all opening up! I have just read what I have written...

  • Hi Gazza feeling so sorry for you, please don't feel less than your brother, you sound like a gorgeous man and that's what important. We are all unique and Depression doesn't mean we are less valuable than other people, so please value yourself like golddust.

    Now the only person who should know about the reason for your sick leave is ( 1). Your HR Manager. ( 2 ). Your boss,

    Now make sure you are not assuming that they know, maybe they are just guessing, just actinormally and if anyone asks be very matter of fact about it and say " Oh yes I was sick but I'm fine now an looking forward to being back in work". Only give any info about it that you feel comfortable with, and if people are nosey just change the subject and excuse yourself, they will smake on get fed up. Some people are clueless and are gossipy but they have no idea it is to go back to work having been Depressed, personally I found it better if I was open about it and then there was no big deal, and people knew and didn't really ask except maybe " Oh how are you ". GOod to see you back etc. In a few days it will be yesterday's news.


  • Thanks Hannah , being open as you say is probably my best approach people know now so now is the time to be open about it.. just feels a bit unknown for me , I worry all the time what people will think but now everyone at work appears to know not much point hiding , but use it as a way to educate people about what it is like and how it affects me personally . Maybe they will understand me and what it's like ...

  • Hi Gazza

    Not stalking you, both the work and food stuff is just very real for me at the moment. Being reasonably secure in my job I have always been very open about my illness, but that was my choice.

    I think that it is very wrong that everyone seems to know at your work. I manage a few staff and do not think it is acceptable.

    I think that it is between you, your doctor and your line manager. Your confirming officer might know simply that you were off with depression and maybe a HR officer. The are roles and responsibilities for both you and the employer it is a two way process even if you are ill. I found that a surprising amount of people seemed to know that I had a breakdown. I then had a bit of a wobble about being so open, although I am now happy with the openness again.

    Having said all that, you don't know what is in other people's heads and you also can't control them. What you can control is how you react. There is no shame in you illness and the good thing out of this bad situation is that it will help people's understanding and hopefullly do a little bit to break the stigma.

    Let this one go and concentrate on your recovery. Also take some heart from your supportive colleagues. I am sure the interview will go well. I know it is very close but don't be afraid to have a think about what might help your recovery and chat these things over. The employer won't have to make these accommodations but there is no harm in having the discussion.

    Some accommodations and they may be in the short term would maybe be;

    - time off to see a therapist

    - slightly reduced hours for a specified time

    - readjustment of work load

    - flexible working hours

    - regular catchups with your boss

    Just suggestions, you may not need any accommodations or want them but just a thought for your interview. Also don't think that the interview is the only time you can talk to your boss or HR about how your illness.

    Walk tall my friend.


  • Matt that's very helpful and has put my mind at ease. Your right I should let it go I am making too much off it . Both you and Chloe have helped as I shouldn't be ashamed . I am ill but I can still try and do just job and still be a positive person . I just have an illness ...

    I was worrying about adjustments to work. TBH I like my work I draw maps and 3D models and techie stuff like that and it what I have done since I was 19. .. now 46 ... at the moment it's just tiredness when I was off I slept till midday now I am at work for 7.30am and it's difficult so I am going to ask if I can start later to help with the sleeping feeling I have

  • Hi I feel for you coz I had the same experience working for the DWP. I didn't raise it with them officially either, but totally agree with Chloe and the others. One of my sisters was also a manager there and one day when I didn't go to work or ring up (I was in hospital overnight recovering from an overdose), my team leader told my sister and she went round to my home. I went apes...t at my team leader and told him under no circumstances was he ever to do that again and it was a breach of confidentiality! I told him I didn't want even my family knowing my business without me authorising it.

    I told my sister a lie (and work) saying that I had had a panic attack which was why I was in hospital. She still thinks that to this day.

    If it is annoying you then I would mention it calmly and ask why they felt they had to tell everyone? It isn't their business as long as your manager knows. Ask them not to do it again. Good luck with your back to work meeting. x

  • Hi coughalot2 , good to know someone else in the public sector side. Tonne honest it's really upset me sonibdo t think I will raise if tomorrow unless they make another poor judgement decision then I might throw it in as a grenade .... I didn't want my bosses or HR to tell people as I wanted to do this myself at my own pace and in a way that people may understand me better

    However I am where I am.. I was always afraid of this and how people react

    The way my employer works is their mental health policy is a capability procedure where they question your ability to work if you have a mental health requirement . I am good at my job I am a creative person borderline bipolar if not actually bipolar so I have moments of great passion enthusiasm and creative if not bizarre ideas followed by long periods of black days ..

    I will just have to see how it goes as you know with DwP what you think is supportive can be a tactic to destroy you !

  • It should have been kept confidential but I shouldn't worry too much. When I came back I let people know because I didn't want gossip and rumours to start. For the first week people were shocked as I always appear happy at work but within a fortnight everyone had got over it. I work in the public sector too and if your place is anything like mine everyone is super busy and have enough work dramas to worry about so they soon move onto thinking about other things! Hope it starts to feel less awkward for you soon.

  • Someone has said something at work from whoever has seen your sick is confidential but they might have told staff as to be accommodating to you as possible.but you do get the ones who make a joke out of it.look at it this way you've been off now your back hopefully stronger and able to deal with things better so don't let anyone get you down.good luck and look to the future.

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