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Threat of dismissal owing to ill health

Following a minor but with severe implications car crash in April 2016, I am still off sick. I have resorted to having to pay for treatment privately owing to to the delays and long waiting times on the NHS. At a stage 3 last week I was told that I was not going to be dismissed on that day as I do now have a treatment plan in place, but I now have 8 weeks to get back to work.

I have worked for the same NHS trust for 24 years, only paying NHS pension for the last 17 years.

If I cannot return to work in the next 8 weeks, can the Trust just throw me out onto the streets without any financial support apart from trying to claim through my pension?

I have not even started the prescribed treatment,not he recovery time may be longer than the time I have left. Following appropriate recovery time I may well be able to return to my substantive post?

Occupational Health have reported that currently I am not fit for work in any capacity.

In my stage three I felt humiliated and guilty, having been told that owing to my Absence, not only have my team suffered but also patient care.

12 Replies

This is disgusting behaviour by your employers. Do you belong to a Union? They are best placed to tell you your rights and support you. You should be involving the HR department who will be more aware of the legislation about this too.

I'm sure loads of people who have been in the same situation will be along soon to give some advice. And you could search on here for unfair dismissal.

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This happened to me I had belonged to Unison for years, they could not help at all except sit in at meetings.. the reps are only volunteers and even with the threat of dismissal you never get any professional advice ..i was dismissed after 33yrs for chronic neuropathic pain that management said I could not work with patients if taking tramadol! I could not work without the pain relief and was therefore dimmed.. No I'll health retirement either...


Your employer can dismiss you on the grounds of ill health, but there are strict procedures that have to be followed. Get advice from your union, your HR department or citizen's advice about your exact circumstances.

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Please get advice as quickly as possible.....your situation can be managed, but you need correct legal information to make your employer sit up & take notice.

Your "case" is possibly being managed by a clerk reading from "The manual" having taken no professional advice at all!

Get on the phone tomorrow to your Union or the CAB!

Hope you get everything sorted......but you have to get on the case NOW!

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Hi Nay-cd

I agree that this seems harsh treatment given the length of time ( not to mention the commitment) you have given to the service.

I also agree the your employer , particularly when OH has stated that your not fit to work, can end your employment .

However, you absolutely have to go to the union or seek advice from employment lawyer.

I'm sure many people on this site will be better placed to offer you more substantial advise than I.

I'm sorry to hear of your difficulties and I wish you the very best of luck.


Unfortunately, you can dismiss people on the basis of ill health but they need to follow procedure and in keeping with the law if you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act. I must say, I'm surprised at how you've been treated. The NHS and other big employers usually work harder to keep people employed. You say "patient care", what do you do? If it is clinical work, can you return but on non clinical duties and perhaps working from home? I wonder if there is any salvaging your job or even if you want this.

I agree with others that you need to join a union - if you haven't already - and speak to an employment solicitor. Did you take a fellow colleague with you into your meetings? You are entitled to.

I'm sorry you're going through this. This must be added stress and not what you need. Even if they have acted legally appropriately, there is no excuse for the way they have treated you.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. Take care.


Thank you, and yes I had union representation at my meetings. However at the first meeting, my union rep claimed that he had little experience or expertise to support me. At one meeting my union rep failed to turn up at all. At this last meeting he informed me that the Trust is following " Policy and procedure" and that I was very lucky to get a reprieve at all.


This is just typical off big employers as you are only a number and when we get ill this is when they show their true colours, I was the same worked with a local authority for 23 years and after contracting RA ,OA and angina they weren't very helpful and I was medically pensioned off in July as I wasn't fit to work anymore and at 51 I felt like I'd been thrown on the scrap heap .Now I'm settled and not any worse off financially as I have my pension and can plan my day without work stress accordingly, I would speak to citizens advice or a lawyer as the unions are a waste off time as they always side with management,good luck

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Get onto the disability law service - they are free and best placed to advise on the next steps for you to take,and definitely get your HR directors involved,that's the first,and one of the best pieces of advice they gave me when I had issues at work(long time absent through illness/disability and new boss and hr graduate being numptys!!)

I wish you well,and I know it's far easier to say than to do,but please try and take care of yourself in the meantime,as at the end of the day,your health is the number one priority here.

Good luck,and please let us know how you get on

Nicki xx

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Dont be guilt tripped for something that is not your fault, it sounds to me like you need to show them a dictionary that defines "accident" and "unfortunate consequences", the last thing you should have is someone coming down on you and you mudt stop coming down on yourself.

I think it would be very unlikely that they will take any drastic action if you are responding well to treatment by the time you reach 8 weeks especially if commencement is delayed.

One thing you have not mentioned is that if there is an insurance company or companies involved they have a duty to facilitate timely care to assist your healing, for example a frozen shoulder gets much worse if left and harder to treat and a longer and more complicated recovery, it is therefore prudent for them in such cases to assist you to get timely intervention to minimalise any future problems from an injury.

Im really sorry you are having to go through this, i have unfortunately experienced 3 events that unforseen through a stick into the wheel spokes of life and a spanner firmly in the works. Many people have no idea that life changing events completely beyond your control can happen and slap you very hard.

I hope you get the support you need to get through this and that your treatment is successful. But meanwhile please dont accept any blame for this.


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If you are unfit for work then yes your employer can end your employment and won't continue to pay sick leave after a certain period of time. They have rights as an employer but also responsibilities to you. It is very important that you get some expert advice from CAB or similar if your union rep is fairly inexperienced.

You don't mention your age. It is possible that your employer may add some years to your pension and you may be able to take early retirement on health grounds. Due to my health and a lengthy period of sick leave I was "pensioned off" by my employers following an occupational health medical at the age of 56. It was a shock at the time, being told that I was unfit to work in my long standing occupation. However I have not looked back, my health improved without the stress or a full time job and financially I have been able to manage. I have considered taking on a bit of part time work in a less demanding job but when I realised how my health improved without work and that I could manage on a reduced income I now spend time following my interests and hobbies and I have no regrets. Your NHS pension website may have lots of information about early retirement on health grounds that you can look at.

If you are younger then there may be jobs within the NHS that would be suitable for someone with your health problems or you may manage work on a part time basis. It sounds like your employers are now beginning to look at your situation a bit more sympathetically. Please get that independent advice and also don't be afraid of asking your union rep to find out from someone who has more information at union head office what your employer can can't legally do and what your possible options are. Even give them a phone yourself. Bear in mind that if an independent occupation health assessment states that you are unfit to do that job then trying to continue doing it may put your health at further serious risk.

I wish you well and hope that you obtain a happy resolution.


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Hiya & welcome Nay-cd. Oh dear yet another member of NHS staff being poorly treated through no fault of their own, it really is the limit. I'm sorry I can't help re retaining your current position though others working for the NHS have been in much the same situation as you find yourself in so I'm sure they'll respond if they have similar experience.

You're correct in thinking 8 weeks will be shy of when your meds, whichever they are, will have greatest benefit, though if appropriate your Rheumy may choose to offer a steroid injection. General ones help for many though I must also add some don't get any relief from them (unfortunately I'm one) so not something to rely on or offer as a possibility of returning to work earlier than may be intended.

Could you get your Rheumy involved do you think? If you explain your predicament work wise he may write to whoever explaining how initial treatments starts & general appropriate timelines for your specific diagnosis, approximate times when you can realistically expect to be brought under control enough to return or continue to work. Worth a shot maybe, if you see him at the Rheumy Dept at the hospital where you work it may be helpful.

Good luck, don't give up without a fight.

PS I'm presuming that following your car crash you now have RD of course!


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