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Occupational Health visit - please help a worried person

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by tehmina87, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Hello everyone, I am very worried and wanted some advice please. I work as a TA in a primary school and I was diagnosed with cancer at the start of this year. My Headteacher and line manager have been extremely supportive of my situation and the whole school - I have been very luck in the support given to me. My headteacher reduced my five day week to four days - allowing one day for treatment and appointments - and also I have been allowed to determine my own work pattern - and go in when possible (which I have been doing much to my head teachers disapproval who has privately told me he thinks i should take time off) however I have been ploughing on. I was also removed from the classroom duties and given a more administrative job which allowed me to work with children but not on a physically demanding level. However, I was due to start my GTP placement this september - and I had notified my headteacher that I would be leaving at the end of the academic year. Since though my placement has fallen through and I am currently looking for a school with my university. My head teacher told me yesterday he was planning for me to leave and had set his budget accordingly - he did however say I could stay on if I do not find a placement and my GTP is deferred - on the condition that I have to go to Occupational Health. He also said he has made lots of the adjustments already for me but now he feels I may need to go to Occupational Health - I am very worried about this because I am concerned about what will happen. I asked my head teacher if this would mean more prodding by another gp and he said yes - although my line manager seems to think that will not be the case and it will be a case of looking to see how my work duties can be modified to help me more. I really do not want to be examined and prodded some more by another set of hands in what is a very invasive and personal area of where my cancer is and have to face further degradation...it has been six months of having this done by my own doctor (who I am seeing privately) and I really feel uneasy having to go through that again with someone else. I am unsure as to what will happen at this appointment - I already have a diagnosis - so will I need to be examined again? And how much information do I have to give over to another party? I have kept my illness very private and quiet and only a select few people know - I am worried about more people knowing. Also, what will the occupational health people need from me? Detailed reports of my illness? It is all proving very worrying and stressful. I really feel as though I am trying to plod on but do not know if I can face further tests to tell me the same thing as my body is not too strong currently.
  2. FollyFairy

    FollyFairy Occasional commenter

    As far as I am aware, OH is there to support teachers. If you do not want to 'prodded' then say so - you are under the capable hands of your own GP/hopsital doctor, therefore are very aware of the diagonsis etc... the HT wants to support you, however, may feel for the sake of covering his/her back that OH now needs to be involved to ensure that you are getting the support needed. This may work n your favour, i.e. if OH states that there are some things you should/shoud not be doing, then the HT will have to work within these restraints.
    Are you with a union? They can also give you excellent advice on the role of OH.
    Take this as positive, rather than negative. I have asked to see OH regarding my situation, but my HT has refused... cause if OH is involved, he has to listen to them!
    Best wishes xx
  3. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Your employer has the right to request, through occupational health, both further details from your own doctor on your condition, and professional advice on how best to support you until you are back to full health. This is important, but not a threat to you - very much more a positive thing as the school will be forced to act on their considered advice. Medical details are held confidentially by them and not communicated to the school itself beyond cursory detail. It is unlikely that you would have any internal examination at such an appointment - more likely a discussion on your treatment plan and how it affects your work.
  4. I am so sorry you have been ill and want to try to reassure you that going to OH will almost certainly NOT mean being examined by anyone! Occupational Health are there to support you and assess whether you need any adjustments made to your work in order to help you recover. They may ask to see your medical notes but you can refuse this if you want. They are likely to ask you how you feel you are coping and whether you believe reducing hours etc may be beneficial.I think you have done exceptionally well to keep working during treatment - when I was in a similar position I had 6 months off work (but I was a teacher and felt I couldn't come in some days and not others).
  5. When I was seen by OH (at my request) following injury and operations there was absolutely no medical examination at all. They simply asked what treatment I had had, how I was coping, what my doctor had suggested, and what support I felt I needed to enable me to cope with my (temporary) condition and work.
  6. Thank you everyone. I am relieved that another physical examination may not be necessary - I was also under the thought that it was more a conversation - and I am quite frankly tired of having different hands *** at me!

    The part that worries me is how much information I have to hand over from my GP? My workplace know the illness I have and details of it but there are certain private details I would not like them to know which are quite intimate. How do I control this? Would I be able to obtain the information myself from my GP and take it with me so I know exactly what is being handed over...I am having my treatment privately.
  7. There are 4 options here as your medical records are private and personal to you.

    1) Grant full access to any records (I would never do this as why should they be able to peer at things from my past that are irrelevant to the current issue).
    2) Grant limited access to only the current medical situation (I did this, however it seems that this may not suit you as it is details of the current situation you want to remain private)
    3) Have the GP write a summary of the current situation with any medical information he feels the OH doctor will need (many people do this, and a sympathetic GP will often allow you to not only view the letter, but perhaps suggest changes to the content if you are uncomfortable).
    4) Refuse all access to your records (however then they may be more likely to want to assess your condition themselves, which I'm guessing you don't want.
    I think option 3 might be your best option reading your posts - so have a chat to your doctor about this.
  8. i've been to OH twice - there has been no touching of me on either occasion and i specified to the OH doctor that certain things that i had said were confidential and not to be repeated to my employer- they were just to be used by the OH doctor to get a clearer picture of what was going on.
    you can also request a copy of the letter to be sent directly to yourself and you have the right to get one.
    i'm sorry you're ill and wish you a speedy recovery.
  9. I also saw OH and the GP that saw me asked me questions based on the information he had from my own GP. At all times I felt comfortable and very much in control (which is unusual for me!). In fact it was a bonus as I had recently been diagnosed with diabetes (not what I had gone to OH for - it was to return after an operation) and he arranged for me to be treated under the DDA - which has meant that further allowances for sickness have been made. Something I didn't know about which has taken a lot of pressure off me.
    I saw it as a positive experience and I hope that you have the same experience. Best wishes to you.
  10. Good advice from Daisy. It may also be helpful to know that all schools have a management of attendance policy. This is designed to support teachers subject to continuing absences and should facilitate a series of supportive measures, one of which will often be a referral to occupational health. As others have stated, no confidential medical information is passed to heads without your consent.
    An Occ Health report will typically indicate things like (a) Fit to return to work, (b) not fit to return to work, (c) unable to make a determination. Or the condition is considered to be (a) temporary (b) permanent (c) unable to make a determination. Its overall purpose is intended to inform heads/county hall as to most appropriate options.
    Unfortunately a postcode lottery applies. Some OH are great - others I wouldn't trust to tell me what day it is. But they are in place and they are a facility that employers make use of. It's not usually found to be a stick with which to beat teachers.

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