Work and a medical.

Work and a medical.

Work and a medical. I am in a bit of a state with being asked to attend a Occupational Health interview and medical because i havent worked since diagnosis in Oct.

I had a lumpectomy in Nov and mastectomy in Dec and am now having chemo.

As i work in a nursery the doctor gave me a sick note and said no way could i go to work as i was at great risk of infection.

I can’t see why i need a interview and a medical and the thought of it is addin to my worries.

the manager said everyone is treated the same no matter whether they have been off with a sore throat for 3 weeks or this, and they may make me to go back to work.
I think its pressure for me to quit whihc is horrible.

Anyone know where i stand legally etc.


Hi Ruth Sorry to hear you’re so distressed. I’m no expert on employment law, but there have been a couple of threads running (one in After treatment has finished, I think) about the Disability Discrimination Act and the protection it now offers to people diagnosed with cancer. I’m about to go out, so haven’t time to look back through the threads for the details, but it might be worth your spending a bit of time trying to find them. Adele is the person who first posted the topic and hopefullyshe will see your query and be able to help you.

Good luck
Kathy xxx

Hi Ruth Hello there Ruth,
I think that your meeting with occ health is standard practice within many companies and goverment bodies. The interveiw is to see how you are getting on, and to give them and you the chance to discuss your phased return to work, by that I mean that if and when you’re ready to go back you can all know what hours you’ll be doing.
I have to admit it does seem rather early for them to be asking you to attend a meeting, but I suppose they want to keep an eye on you and make sure that they are doing the best for you in terms of keeping your job open etc. Are you still on full pay ? If so I suppose they may want to discuss this with you also. Legally, they can’t throw you out of a job just because you have cancer, or MAKE you go back to work before you’re ready. In fact a diagnosis of cancer means that you have rights under the Disability Dicrimination Act. There are a number of threads about this do have a look around here.
Hope this helps,
Love to you,
Flora xx

Sorry Can’t offer any legal advice but I just wanted to say that I think its abominable to treat you this way. I’ve been off since May 2005 and although my Occupational Health people phone me from time to time there is no pressure to return. I had a phone call Wednesday p.m. from them; when I told my BC nurse today she asked if they were pressuring me, they’re not. They have been in touch with my GP, who then wrote to them but I saw a draft of his letter before he sent it. I’m currently suffering from Depression and there is no way I could cope with work at the moment.

I don’t know if you are aware (I wasn’t until I read it on the forums recently) but you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act from the time of diagnosis of BC. Have you spoken to your GP or your Breast Care nurse? I understand the Macmillan nurses are good too for help and advice, they have people to help with claiming benefits etc, so they may be able to advise on this or Citizen’s Advice… If you have a valid Medical Certificate I don’t think they can make you return to work. Your contract should state the company’s position on long-term sickness.


Hi Ruth, I also work with pre-school children and was advised not to work during chemo. I had returned to work for a little while after surgery and before chemo. After about 3 or 4 months of sick leave I had a visit from someone in human resources. She was’nt very pleasant she could see I was obviously having chemo (bald) and basically wanted to know when I expected to return to work. I told her hopefully 4 weeks after last chemo. I heard nothing then until my G.P. rang to tell me she had received a letter from occupational health and thought I ought to see it before she replied to them. I could’nt beleive what I read occupational health thought it would be in my best interest to retire early ( I was 43 at the time) due to ill health. Copies of this letter had been sent to my surgeon and onc. Luckily my G.P was on the ball and knew it would seem unlikely this is what I would have wanted. The letter insinuated that I had agreed to all this. ( I had’nt even spoke to The surgeon, onc. and G.P. were disgusted by there treatment and wrote and told them so.
The whole thing really upset me here I was trying to be positive and looking forward but I felt occupational health had just written me off without even speaking to me let alone meeting me.

A better experience. Hi Ruth

I’m sorry to hear you’re so distressed. I thought you might like to hear my story though cos it’s all been a good experience for me.

I haven’t been at work since June last year, when I had my first op. I work in an office and my docs have all agreed I shouldn’t go back to work while I’m having treatment. Not only because of the risk of infection, but also because of the fatigue, lack of concentration etc. Plus, I want to put all my energy into getting through this treatment without the added stress of work.

Anyhow, I got the routine appointment with the Occupational Health nurse last August after being off a couple of months. They were quite apologetic for dragging me in there, but it is company policy to see people after a while. She just asked me what my treatment plans were and said they would like to consult my GP for details of my medical records. At no point did she make me feel like she was trying to catch me out, force me back to work or try to get rid of me. I felt happy for them to contact my GP, as I knew they wouldn’t get any surprises from there either.

In January I had another appointment with the Occy Health doctor. He’d received all my medical notes etc, and we had a good chat about my treatment etc. Again, I didn’t feel any pressure from them about returning to work. He did ask me if I had any idea when I might consider returning. I told him I couldn’t see it happening until about May. He agreed that this seemed wise due to my ongoing treatment and the nature of my job (financial year end/beginning is a very busy time). I am going to see him again in April to discuss this further with him.

To be honest, I’ve found the whole experience very supportive. I truly believe they are acting in my best interests and they are working closely with my managers to make sure I get the support I need when I return after what will be almost a year off work. I haven’t minded speaking to them, and understand that as they are still paying me sick pay (half pay at the moment) they have a policy to check on your progress now and again.

I have to say, I’m very fortunate and do work for a very understanding employer so I know my experience may not be the norm but I just wanted to let you know it’s not always a bad thing.

Good luck.

Jo xx

Disability Rights Commission …have a website and certainly they will answer any queries if you ring them. Not quite sure Ruth from your post if this is your employers occ health or the Department of Work & Pensions (all DWP’s occ health is subcontracted out to a private company with a really strange Germanish name - which I helpfully cannot remember!).

In any event no-one in their right mind is going to judge you as ready to go back to work whilst having chemo. Clearly you have to be honest with them about how you feel emotionally and they are bound to ask you when you ‘think’ you may be able to return to work. I believe it is wuite reasonable to say that you cannot even think about it at the moment. As time passes they will want to know what you are doing to help yourself back to wellness i.e. going to a gym, counselling etc.

This is important no-one can make you return to work whilst you are unfit to do so. I am also a little surprised that it isn’t within your managers remit to waive or postpone the medical at this stage.
Ruth - easily said I know - but try not to worry. You have had cancer that is enough for you to deal with, it would be a sociopath who didn’t agree with that.

Best wishes


Sick note Hi Ruth

I can’t add much to what others have said - but just to reaffirm my understanding is that if you have a sick note then that is that - you cannot go back to work until your GP signs you off the sick. Your employer has no legal right to make you go back to work whilst you are covered by sick notes, indeed your employer’s insurance would not permit you to return to work whilst on the sick.

I am expecting to be called in by Occ Health myself soon - it does seem very unnecessary at this stage doesn’t it ?? Mind you they may have sent you their standard letter - I can’t really see what sort of ‘medical’ they’re going to give you.

Take care


Occy Health Hi Ruth

I work in the NHS and have been involved in several cases of long term sickness ( including myself, of course) It is a procedure which has to be the same for everyone and it all has to be documented but it is not a case of trying to force you back to work. If your Doctor says you cannot work then you can’t - they can’t ignore that.

I was diagnosed with primary BC 18 months ago and saw occy health when I returned to work after my operation I had a routine appointment with them - they needed to establish whether I needed any help to return. I was given a phased return for a few months - very common when someone has been off for a while.
I worked through chemo but again had help from occy health in that they liaised with my manager to keep me off the wards during this time due to the risk of infection from patients.
I was again called to see them after radiotherapy and again had a’phased return’.

I was diagnosed with mets 3 months after my primary treatment ended. Again occy health have been involved and I have been told I can work when I feel like it and have been kept away from any isolation wards where there is known infection. I have a contact name there to call at any time.

I realise that not all employers are as helpful as this but at the end of the day you are protected by the law. I think that as your company has a department such as this, it is manned by trained Drs and Nurses and they are well aware of the treatments you are having. I would be very surprised if they expected you to work during this time.

Let us know how you get on.


occupational health I went back to work while I was still covered by a sickness certificate and had been told I needn’t work until after radiotherapy finished (I would have been off for months more). I got sent to occupational health because they were worried about insurance and health and safety.

the day I turned up was the day before my radiotherapty planning meeting and I kept having to go to the loo due to having developed cystitis that day, bad timing.

I told the doctor I felt like throwing myself in front of trains, he seemed to think I’d be better off in work

so that was that. Didn’t mention cystitis to him and had to go later in the day to see an emergency doctor for antibiotics.

I haven’t seen anyone from occ health since - last visit was March 2004


occ health hi ruth

try not to worry, i can only re-iterate what many of the girls have said. i am a nurse and had been off sick for 4 months when i was called in to occ health. i was seen by a dr who was very supportive and told me only to go back when i was ready and that he would recommend a phased return. i returned to work last week and am increasing my hours over a 12 week phased return. i still have 3 more sessions of CMF to go but so far i am coping ok. i’m sure your interview will be fine, they are actually looking out for you and should inform you of all your rights.


Just found this posting i did while ago. the occy health were fab and the doc wonderful said i wouldn’t be available for work until at least end of Sept and then she would phase me back in.
her friend was goin through the same thing so she was very understanding.

Phew relief, but i dont know whether i want to go back now though anyone know if you have too i am on half pay now.

where would i stand if come Sept i want to quit ?


Information on benefits Hi all

In addition to the advice members have already posted, you might find this publication from BCC helpful. It gives lots of easy to understand information on this difficult area. It also includes useful contact details

Thanks BCC Thanks for that info very helpful