Access to Medical Records

(42 Posts)
PinkM0nkey Fri 25-Jan-13 16:52:28

I've returned to work post mat leave and in passing mentioned to my employer I've suffered with PND. They have now requested access to my medical records as they have a duty of care for me. I'd prefer not to give access as i feel this is an invasion of privacy and I'm not sure how seeing this information written down with change the situation?

Can i refuse?

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 17:45:14

Under the Access to Medical Reports Act you can refuse consent. You can also consent but say you want to see the report before it goes to your employer. If you take the latter course you are entitled to ask for corrections or withdraw consent for your employer to see the report.

PinkM0nkey Fri 25-Jan-13 18:21:58

Can my employers take any further action if I refuse?

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 19:10:34

Your employer should advise you of the consequences. It certainly means they cannot be expected to make any adjustments to cope with your PND. Depending on what you do they may be unable to assess your fitness for work, in which case it could lead to further action.

PinkM0nkey Fri 25-Jan-13 19:16:44

Thank you for replying. Ive asked for a temporary change of hours not because of pnd but because of where im temporary living. My request was denied. But the they asked to see my medical records as they have a duty of care. My work hasn't been mentioned or questioned.

Downfall Fri 25-Jan-13 20:34:17

OP if you don't want them to access your medical records - and I can't imagine any scenario where an employee would want to give unlimited access to a full set of medical notes - then just respond stating you do not wish for your personal, confidential, sensitive personal information to be shared.

Do you think you mean your GP notes, or Occupational Health record?

If they won't drop it, then tell them that in your opinion you can do your role without any adjustments needing to be considered (assuming this is the case), but, if your employer does have an opinion to the contrary, that you would like them to explain their rationale and that you will give consideration to undergoing a consultation with their appointed and appropriately qualified health professional. You could always ask them in which ways they had thought of to discharge their duty of care.

PinkM0nkey Fri 25-Jan-13 20:44:08

GP notes i dont have to my knowledge any Occupational Health records?

I can do my job no problem and my PND dose not in any way effect my work, my work is purely administration. I have no idea what they even mean by duty of care. i cant see how them seeing my gp notes will make any difference to anything???

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 21:20:08

Just for clarity, they can't have full access to your medical records. The relevant legislation is the Access to Medical Reports Act. Note the title. They can ask for a medical report from your GP, not your full medical records. They may, for example, want to know if your PND constitutes a disability and/or whether there are any reasonable adjustments they might make to help you at work.

PinkM0nkey Fri 25-Jan-13 22:13:09

But I haven't been to the doc about it?

hrrumph Fri 25-Jan-13 22:54:08

Have you taken any time off sick because of it?

Sometimes it's in an employment contract that if you've taken a certain amount of time off sick, or had a certain number of sickness episodes, they can ask you to see occupational health. Check your sickness absence policy on that.

An occupational health dr may ask for a report from your gp (but this is rare) - but would certainly not request full access to your medical records. The occupational health dr would then say if you're likely to be considered to be covered by the disability provisions of the Equality Act. They can't say for sure, it's for a court to decide. If you are likely to be covered - the employer has a duty to try and make reasonable adjustments to enable you to continue working. This could be reduced hours, reduced workload, being able to work from home - things like that. But it's only advice and it's up to the employer if it's operationally possible.

For depression - this tends to be applicable if someone doesn't have obvious triggers for an episode (e.g. childbirth, bereavement, divorce) and hasn't had it repeatedly for years on end. Not a doctor but unless you have a long history of it, unlikely to be covered.

Working in occupational health, I'd say it's completely inappropriate for them to ask for full access to your medical records.

If you're not having any problems doing your job, why on earth are they asking for this? It is invasive and completely unnecessary.

The way occupational health operates is that a qualified nurse or dr may ask for a report from your gp or specialist on a particular issue. Not your whole medical records. And even then the doctor would tailor a report for management - not disclose the minutae of your medical details - just give advice on how best to support you in the workplace. And any information disclosed to the employer would only be after you had read the report and agreed to it being disclosed.

I'm only in admin in occ health - but I think this is unreasonable. Is it a large company or a small one? Possibly something you should ask advice from the CAB I'd say.

hrrumph Fri 25-Jan-13 23:23:40

Sorry that should say "has had it repeatedly for years on end".

achillea Fri 25-Jan-13 23:30:27

Have they written to request this from you? If so, what exactly did they say in the letter?

I would certainly not give them consent unless it is critical for the job that you do.

If they are fishing because they think you have a disability that might cost them in sick pay etc, that's discrimination.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 00:18:58

The fact you haven't been to your doctor about it will not prevent him from writing a report. As your GP he should have been notified.

achillea - If they are checking to see if they need to make reasonable adjustments for the OP's PND that is not discrimination. Failure to give consent means they will be unable to make adjustments. Any claim for discrimination or unfair dismissal as a result of their failure to make adjustments would therefore fail. And in some lines of work the OP's fitness for work may be in question, in which case a refusal to consent is likely to be regarded as proof that she is not fit for work.

PinkM0nkey Sat 26-Jan-13 20:59:51

I haven't had any time off work for sickness at all. I haven't been to my gp about the PND they have asked for full access

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 21:42:00

They cannot have full access to your medical records. Your GP would not give them your full records. They are only entitled to reports which are in connection with your employment.

The fact you have had no time off work and haven't been to your GP about your PND are irrelevant. Your employer is still entitled to ask for access to a report from your GP. As I have said before, they may be concerned that they need to make adjustments to allow you to do your job. If you refuse consent you will lose the right to claim on the basis of their failure to make adjustments should this subsequently cause a problem.

hf128219 Sat 26-Jan-13 21:46:54

What are classed as reasonable adjustments?

Would an offs e move be considered reasonable in a big organisation with offices everywhere?

ginmakesitallok Sat 26-Jan-13 21:49:52

I'm confused. You haven't had any time of with pnd, it hasn't affected your work, and it's got nothing to with you request for change in working hours. Why are your employers asking about it? How do they even know about it?

achillea Sat 26-Jan-13 21:54:37

Perhaps in that case it would be sensible to ask why they would like the information - and ask them to put that in writing and you will take it to your GP.

Out of interest bridge do you think employers know that asking for medical records is a good way of avoiding a claim for disability discrimination because it's likely that if the employee will refuse if they have a hidden disability that they would rather keep hidden? Or is that me being cynical and paranoid?

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 23:48:44

hf128219 - A reasonable adjustment is a change made to the job to allow an employee with a disability to continue carrying out the role. If a different office has better facilities for coping with the disability a move to that office may be a reasonable adjustment, but clearly not if it involved the employee in a 200 mile journey to work each day.

ginmakesitallok - The OP told us that she told her employer that she has suffered with PND.

achillea - If an employer suspects that an employee has a condition that may be classed as a disability they need to determine whether or not it is a disability and, if so, whether or not they need to make reasonable adjustments for the employee. If they do not do so that could lead to a claim of discrimination, particularly if the employee is subsequently dismissed for reasons related to the disability. If they need a medical report to determine whether or not there is a disability they must ask for one. They could still face a claim if they get the report and then fail to make reasonable adjustments if any are required. If the employee refuses the report the employer could still face a claim if a reasonable person would have been aware of the disability and the required adjustments without the report. However, if the disability is not obvious and the employee refuses the report the employee has, in effect, given up their right to claim discrimination related to their disability.

herewegoloubylou Sat 26-Jan-13 23:50:29

V. interesting re disability legislation.

achillea Sat 26-Jan-13 23:55:21

Thanks bridge. So if you have a disability it's best to keep quiet about it until you've got the job, but then expect to give them a medical report.

If they ask you before you start and you say no, are you disadvantaged in any way if you tell them afterwards?

I've not been in work for a while and it seems that things have changed.

prh47bridge Sun 27-Jan-13 13:22:45

I really don't know how you arrive at that conclusion. If you keep quiet about it until you've got the job you are putting yourself in a difficult position to say the least, doubly so if you deny having any disability.

PinkM0nkey Sun 27-Jan-13 18:12:53

Thanks bridge and everyone else for your comments. Sounds like the best advice would be to give access and hope for the best.

tribpot Sun 27-Jan-13 18:14:49

I don't think anyone's said give them access, have they? They can make a request for your GP to put a report together or likewise ask their occupational health people to do so. But they categorically cannot have direct access to your medical records.

hrrumph Sun 27-Jan-13 20:58:03

I hope I didn't tribot. If it were me, I would definitely not give access.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 07:51:22

But i feel like if i dont they will continue to make my life at work hell. :-(

tribpot Mon 28-Jan-13 08:00:34

If they want a report they can ask your GP for one (and pay). They cannot have access to your medical records.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 08:43:20

Sorry yes a gp report.... As regard other matters, from the comments in your letter, I am concerned about your state of health. In view of this, the company would like to obtain a medical report from your doctor, to understand your present condition and the future prognosis.

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 28-Jan-13 12:22:00

What do you meant continue to make your work life hell?

At the end of the day they can only work with what they know, if in the future you had time off they may have to deal with your absence (or other issues) without taking that into account.

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 12:27:05

You know if you're suffering from PND, the best thing to do is go to the GP and get professional help with it?

I am a little confused as to how, if you haven't sought medical advice and help, you could know that you are suffering from PND?

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 12:32:20

I have been in denial, and yes i agree I need help and am taking steps to sort this. I have been in touch with mind and another telephone based counseling service.

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 12:34:30

But if it doesn't say on your doctor's medical notes that you have PND, and that's the issue you are concerned about, then what's the problem?

I'm not meaning to be rude, I really just don't understand.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 12:42:05

I'm perhaps worried that when they ask for my medical records and there's nothing there about the PND they will make things harder for me.

And you're not sounding rude :-) i appreciate any in put x

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 12:44:08

Just, if you go to your GP there's loads they can do to help with the PND - could you even talk to your HV if you don't want to talk to the GP?

If you want them to make adjustments for your PND then it really needs to be documented somewhere by a medical professional.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 12:51:03

They have refused to make adjustments, which is why i cant see the point in the medical report. Had they agreed to any kind of adjustment then yes have a look feel free. sad

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 12:53:49

But sweetheart, before they make adjustments, they need to see your medical records to know that you're genuinely ill, and also to get your doctor's advice as to what adjustements to make.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 12:58:23

I understand what your saying and agree. However, if they have said, we can not make any adjustments to your working hours sorry. But can we see your medical records anyway. surely this isnt right?

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 13:05:14

But they may be able to if you have evidence in your medical notes. I don't know. But you're asking a lot of a workplace to make adjustements for a medical condition without giving professional medical evidence to back that up. And I know how rotten PND is and I am so so sorry that this seems like I am being hard I wish I could find another way to put this.

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 13:08:24

No really it's fine i completely understand. smile

courtsareadisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 13:12:21

The thing is, there may be something else they're able to do, other than change your hours, and they could be looking for evidence so they can do this?

But I'd hate to give work open access to my medical records - I assume (although I don't know) that work would write a letter with what their concerns are and the doctor would answer?

PinkM0nkey Mon 28-Jan-13 13:19:45

Yes maybe you're right although i'm not sure what else they can do to help. I'm not thrilled at the idea but i see it as my only option right now. x

missingmumxox Tue 29-Jan-13 00:48:06

first hello hrrumph couldn't have put it better myself, in OH we only ask for what we need, someones full medical records are a short road to terminology and pointless information hell.
I would say maybe you manager is looking for a way to support your temp change of hours and can see this as a win for you, but they have understood the idea of the equality act not the practice of it.
if they want to help you, you should maybe suggest if you employer doesn't have a a Occ Health, they invest in an independent OH Nurse or doctor they are a lot cheaper than a full medical history, non medical people trying to wade through it, legal people trying to see if they could lose money and the eventual medical report on you PND.
better to cut to the chase and spend a couple of hundred on a OHN or D who will do the whole package and most probably will not need a report, I rarely use them, consultants would rather cover their arse than give good advice, excepting psychiatrists who get my 2 thumbs up on being pretty honest and full of top tips, but in your case this is irrelevant.
For the record I not an independent OH nurse and never have been, I am a OH manager in a company.

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