Fighting Ovcupational Health

(14 Posts)
MummySparkle Fri 19-Jun-15 21:01:06

I'm a technician in a secondary school. My role involves lesson prep, tidying and being a Teaching Assistant.

I have a history of mental health issues, mostly depression, however I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as an inpatient when I was a teenager.

I have worked in schools & with children for the last 4 years.

I started a new job in January and had a meeting with an occupational health Doctor in May for my 'pre-employment' checks. (Although I've been working for my current school since January with no issue). The OH Dr was basing her consultation on a report from my GP which mentioned that I have "postnatal depression with psychotic thoughts". I don't have psychotic thoughts, and I never have. The first I've heard of it was in this meeting with the OH Dr, and it completely threw me.

The Occy Health Dr's report states that I can't be left unsupervised in the presence of children. This is practically impossible given the nature of my job.

My head of department and the headteacher have been very supportive of me, however the report has obviously put them in a difficult position.

I'm desperately trying to fight this. OH need a new GP report and a specialist report before anything else can happen. I've been making phone calls trying to get things to go faster, but in the interim I don't know what to do. I am trying to carry on as normal, but I'm so stressed that im not concentrating properly at work. Every time my colleagues leave the classroom I panic that some student is going to make a crazy allegation against me. I know 100% that I pose no risk to the students. The OH report recommends that I am accompanied the whole time I am on the premises. In theory I'm not allowed to walk down the corridor by myself.

The whole situation Is making me incredibly stressed and I can feel that it is making me ill. My psychiatrist has seen the report and thinks it's ridiculous, but it will take time for the new reports to come in, and I don't know what to do. I feel like I shouldn't be in school until things are sorted, at this rate it's going to be well into the summer holidays before its sorted. I am so angry at the system, and upset that all of the senior management team at work now know that I'm not allowed to be unsupervised with children. It's horrible, the deputy head looks at me differently now. I'm so stressed by this all sad

flowery Sat 20-Jun-15 09:22:22

I really feel for you, but I'm not sure fighting OH is the best option. Of course they have to act on the medical information they've received from your GP. Imagine if something happened and it came out that they knew of the risk of psychotic thoughts but left you with the children.

It's good that they are seeking further medical opinion, and hopefully when this arrives it will be resolved. But in the meantime while of course you are upset and frustrated, I don't actually think "the system" is the issue here.

antimatter Sat 20-Jun-15 09:28:31

I think that your bosses put your in this stressful situation.
It sounds tough but they should be following Dr's advice. Woild be less stressful. Besides I wonder if they are not breaking the law.
I don't know what should you do now but I would be very upset if I were you that your bosses left you in this impossible situation.

antimatter Sat 20-Jun-15 09:29:22

I meant that school is breaking the law bt not following dr's advice.

MummySparkle Sun 21-Jun-15 01:28:23

Thank you for your replies flowers

I've been emailing the head today. We have decided that I'm not going to be in this week until she has spoken to her HR advisers and got some more advice on the matter.

I don't have psychotic thoughts, and I know I'm not a risk to the students, as do my colleagues and I think the head does too, but the stupid OH report puts everyone in a difficult position.

I've been chasing the further medical reports, but my mental Earth hadn't received it earlier in the week, despite the request being sent on 2nd of June. It has been sent again, and I have let them know to look out for it, but it will take time to get them back, and then more time to arrange another appt with the OH doctor once they're in.

At the moment we have left it that I won't come in on Monday, and make up the hours when I can. But if it's decided that I can't be in until further medical a come through, then what happens. Will I get my normal pay? Can I get sick pay even if I'm not signed off? Do I need to get the Dr to sign me off? Or will I just be at home with nothing??

I just want to be able to do my job in peace. I love my job, and I'm great at it, and I know I'm appreciated by my colleagues. I'm not sure things will ever be able to go back to normal once this is sorted, and that makes me so sad. And I worry if I ever wanted to move schools am I ever going to get a job on education again?

flowery Sun 21-Jun-15 06:38:13

"stupid OH report puts everyone in a difficult position."

Thought you said it was your GP who had flagged this in his/her report? You need to get out of the mindset of being cross with OH for not ignoring something like that. If your GP has put something untrue about you in a medical report you should be taking it up with him/her. Have you been to see the GP about this?

If your HT has decided the only way to follow OH recommendations that you not be alone with children is for you to not be in at all, and has told you not to come in, then you should be paid for that.

Lagoonablue Sun 21-Jun-15 06:48:00

It is not OH that is the problem. Ŷou need a new medical assessment. Either get from GP or ask OH to refer you for a new one. Ask your Union for support. If you are not in, join.

MummySparkle Sun 21-Jun-15 19:11:12

I think my main reason for being annoyed with OH is that they told me one thing and did another.

During my appointment she said that her recommendations were that I shouldn't be the only member of staff responsible for a group of students. Which would only affect the after school club that I ran.

And then when I got the report it said I couldn't be unattended with children as well, which is totally different.

I am annoyed with the GP report as well. I have moved house since, but I think I will call my old gp and ask for an explanation. The original GP report was written back in January, but it has taken OH forever to organise a meeting.

I am upset at the whole situation. I showed my psychologist the OH report and he said that it sounded like te OH Dr was acting defensively as opposed to actually assessing me. I am also unhappy wth the way she conducted the appoibtment. She kept pressing me for 'answers' about the psychotic thoughts and what they were, despite me knowing nothing about that, but she wouldn't accept that as an answer. I left the place in tears because of how she had made me feel. She wouldn't listen to anything positive I had to say, and kept hammering away at anything vaguely negative. i felt like she wanted to focus on the negatives purely so that she could write a damning report on me.

My Headteacher emailed her for some clarifications on 'must not be unsupervised with children' because students pop in and out of the classroom to collect belongings during break and lunch. The OH Dr replied recommending that I was accompanied the entire time I'm in school premises.

I feel like im being treated as a criminal, despite me doing nothing wrong. And quite frankly, I see mental health professionals at least once a fortnight, and other health professionals regularly too. If I was a danger to other people then I would have been sectioned, or they would at least be monitoring me closely. At the moment they are quite laid back, and I am quite laid back too. If it wasn't for all of this OH stress then I'd be doing really well at the moment.

flowery Sun 21-Jun-15 21:16:45

"I felt like she wanted to focus on the negatives purely so that she could write a damning report on me."

Why would that be? Why do you think she wanted to write a damning report on you?

It sounds to me as though in the report she was more cautious than she suggested she might be in the meeting, probably because she'd reflected on it and perhaps done research/taken advice.

I understand you are frustrated but suggesting the OH had some kind of vendetta or deliberately was looking for reasons to write negative things about you is very far-fetched tbh.

Co-operate with the process. Understand that people need to be cautious when it comes to safeguarding and that that cautiousness sometimes means inconvenience/upset. Further medical advice is being sought, which is good, and hopefully this will be resolved shortly.

MummySparkle Sun 21-Jun-15 21:53:10

I'm not saying she had a vendetta against me. I know she is just doing her job. I just didn't like the way she conducted the appoibtment. Had I had a different nicer OH Dr I think the report would be different because I would have been able to present myself differently. I felt like she had read that GP report and made her mind up about her recommendations before even meeting me.

I am cooperating, my Headteacher, head of department and I have been working together to try and find solutions to this, but I feel like I am being punished for something I haven't done. Going to work is one of the highlights of my week. It's busy and it can be hard work, but it gives me a chance to be me me rather than just mummy me. I get the chance to think creatively, solve problems and help students to achieve their ambitions. There's nothing better than watching them get excited about a project and helping them to find ways to make it work.

I love my own kids too, but at 1 & 2 they are hard work. Where we live is quite isolated so it's lonely being at home. Work is my social life, my mental stimulation & my fun! I do what I love for a living. And I am going to miss that a lot this week.

I have to fight this decision. Otherwise my only option is to walk away and never have a job with children again. Teaching is my vocation, so walking away is not an option. I have to fight to clear my name as fast as possible so that I can move on with my life, and my career.

flowery Mon 22-Jun-15 08:06:32

"I have to fight this decision....I have to fight to clear my name"

As far as I can tell from your posts, no decision has been made. They are not making a decision based on this report, instead they are seeking further medical reports, and in the meantime, have to be cautious for the reasons I've mentioned earlier. No one has dismissed you or said you'll never work with children again. If the report from the GP was untrue, there is no reason to think that report will be backed up by the additional reports being sought.

You haven't been accused of anything, so your name doesn't need "clearing".

If, when they get the additional reports, and the additional reports make clear that you are fine to do your job, and they dismiss you anyway, then absolutely fight it. But that hasn't happened.

HRAdvisor Wed 24-Jun-15 23:44:34

You shouldn't be annoyed at the OH adviser for being rigorous in thoroughly questioning you, that's their job.

But if it's decided that I can't be in until further medical a come through, then what happens. Will I get my normal pay?
Yes, you will be suspended on full pay. Any deductions will count as unlawful deductions of pay.

Can I get sick pay even if I'm not signed off?
That depends on your employers sickness absence policy.

Do I need to get the Dr to sign me off? Or will I just be at home with nothing??
You can self-certify sickness absence for 5 days, anything more will generally require a fit note.

I have to fight this decision. Otherwise my only option is to walk away and never have a job with children again.
I know you're upset, but that's a ridiculous statement to make. That's not the truth at all.

You need to challenge the source of your issue and that is the record held within your GP's original notes. You have a legal right to challenge medical records held about yourself which you believe are incorrect or misleading. You should write to the practice manager of your current GP surgery asking for an appointment to do so.

Advice from an occupational health provider is just that, 'advice'. HR need not follow that medical advice, though it would be prudent to do so.

MummySparkle Thu 25-Jun-15 01:25:31

Thank you HRA

I know that it is the job of the OH Dr to be thorough in her questioning. I don't feel that it was her job to bombard me with questions to the point where I was confused and felt I had to give her the answers she wanted as opposed to my actual feelings. Looking back I should have said I was confused and to ask for clarification. I am in the process of an autism diagnosis, i get overwhelmed easily when being questioned and I find it hard to let people know that I am lost. That's a whole thread in itself l, but something I am working I and I e already sta ted to make positive steps.

It is good to know that I will still receive full pay. We wouldn't bale able tthe survive with anything else.

Ihave a meeting with the head and my HoD on Friday. I don't rt know what will be said.

The whole situation is making me very stressed and anxious. I had a major MH relapse in February and work has been the thing to pull me out of it. Not being there this week has been knocking my confidence & sense of self-worth.

MummySparkle Sun 28-Jun-15 01:23:34

The meeting with the head on Friday went well. I think I'm finally coming to terms with it all now my brain has had some time to process everything.

I've been medically suspended. There isn't really any other option. My head of department is going to send some work home for me, and I'm goingn to try and go in for a few afternoons when she is free to collect me from reception and escort me off the premises.

All of the specialists have received the report requests now, so hopefully they will get back to OH ASAP. I'm going to keep chasing them next week.

The head is going to organise a meeting with another occupational health doctor, she's going to find one who specialises in mental health so that we can get a second opinion. She has been really supportive.

It's frustrating that it's all taking so long sad

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