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AIBU to ask about confidentiality

(232 Posts)
SoyaCoconutOrAlmond Tue 18-Apr-17 19:18:36

DH is an addict. Has been for a while. He managed to stop through sheer willpower and started again.

Clearly he needs professional help. Problem is he works for the NHS and people have been suspended/struck off for being addicted .

Is there any way he can obtain professional support without it compromising his career?

Doyouthinktheysaurus Tue 18-Apr-17 19:22:00

He should be able to self refer to the local addiction service confidentially.

I'm of the understanding that they would only break confidentiality in extreme circumstances.

SoyaCoconutOrAlmond Tue 18-Apr-17 19:24:04

He can't, unfortunately - they do disclose to employers if it is deemed that there is a risk.

WorraLiberty Tue 18-Apr-17 19:25:41

Perhaps it depends on what he is addicted to?

SoyaCoconutOrAlmond Tue 18-Apr-17 19:26:51

Well, yes, of course, in the sense that if he was addicted to chocolate it wouldn't be a problem smile

BollardDodger Tue 18-Apr-17 19:27:31

Can he not just provide false details? How would the addiction service know who he worked for?

Softkitty2 Tue 18-Apr-17 19:28:07

If he is directly involved in patient care. I would suggest he immediately seeks help before something untowards happen.

whitershadeofpale Tue 18-Apr-17 19:29:10

What about NA/AA?

coolaschmoola Tue 18-Apr-17 19:29:32

Sorry to be harsh, but if he's an addict, working in the NHS, potentially putting people at risk, then he SHOULD be suspended!

HerBluebiro Tue 18-Apr-17 19:30:13

Depends what his job is. What his access to his addictive substance is. And whether he has stolen from work and what his risk to patients is.

If he is a doctor he is far better to seek help than to be found out. Similarly a nurse. Addiction would be appropriate for sick leave and nhs sick leave is fairly generous

If in Manchester there's confidential help available. He can give a fake name etc.

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 18-Apr-17 19:34:56

Could he take a leave of absence and get help abroad?

Temporaryanonymity Tue 18-Apr-17 19:38:29

Be careful about hiding it. Is he in a registered profession?

thatorchidmoment Tue 18-Apr-17 19:39:47

Occupational health keep their own medical records separately to standard medical records, so it will not be available to his GP. Information shared with them is confidential to them.

Any health professional who has a concern that patients at risk has a duty to do what they must to remove that risk. For your DH, this means he has a duty to seek help for his addiction, and if he is deemed to be a risk to patients (which he may not have the insight to assess correctly), Occ Health must do what they can to remove that risk. They are capable of signing him off but they don't have to disclose a specific reason.

If they feel they must break confidentiality, they will tell your DH and give him the option of disclosing information himself instead.

I hope he gets the help he needs.


allowlsthinkalot Tue 18-Apr-17 19:40:19

Best thing your dh can do is be honest with Occupational Health. He is likely to be temporarily suspended from practice until he is fit. But oh take a very dim view of covering up and not having the insight to take time off and avoid putting patients at risk is likely to end in him losing his authority to practise permanently.

Primaryteach87 Tue 18-Apr-17 19:40:46

Could he be signed off sick by his GP for something (they are normally quite good about being circumspect if needed) and then seek help. He would be able to reassure them that he was not currently posing any risk to patients so they would not be duty bound to disclose?

Primaryteach87 Tue 18-Apr-17 19:41:23

Not suggesting lying to GP, just getting them to write something nodescript onthe sicknote

Ollycat Tue 18-Apr-17 19:42:25

Speaking as someone whose dh is a recovering alcoholic I mean this in the nicest possible way.

He needs to get proper professional help / rehab. If he would get struck off for doing his job as an addict then that's a sure sign that he mustn't be doing his job now.

Addicts lie - and are very good at lying. However bad you think his addiction is it will be 3+ times worse. As I say addicts lie.

Get help and if his job involves any sort of patient care you must stop him from doing it now.

I know I sound harsh but you mustn't minimise the situation. I'm sorry you're having to go through this flowers

BluePeppersAndBroccoli Tue 18-Apr-17 20:03:34

Agree it depends what the substance is and what is his job.

I have to say, if one clients was coming to see me for help with an addiction and told me they were working on the NHS, I wouldn't have reported it unless there was a very clear risk to patients.
That's because I'm not working within the NHS and am not aware of their rules.

So I would say, he needs to either find someone who knows the rules inside out so they don't feel they have to (assuming he is t in a position where it will trigger the report immediately) or see someone completely outside the NHS who wouldn't know about said rule.

HOWEVER, this is a VERY serious situation. If he is in charge of patients and is at work whilst being intoxicated, this is a very dangerous situation for the patients and a risk that isn't worth taking TBH.
Would you be able to live knowing that your DH injured/made a huge mistake due to his addiction but you did nothing to prevent it??
Yes he really does need help. But he also needs to ensure that he is not a risk to other people sad

wickerlampshade Tue 18-Apr-17 20:06:03

What does he do? If a doctor or dentist, he should go to Clare Gerada's service in London. They will only report if a risk to patient

SoyaCoconutOrAlmond Tue 18-Apr-17 20:06:21

Thanks for your replies.

It's the access to medication that's the sticking point. There's never been the suggestion, even remotely, of harm coming to a patient. But as it is the fact that harm might come to a patient is enough.

harderandharder2breathe Tue 18-Apr-17 20:07:29

Depending on his role, it's absolutely right that it's reported and you are wrong to support him in continuing to hide his addiction. If he's involved in patient care he is putting people at risk and you are enabling that. If he has no patient contact and no influence over patient care then that's different.

pregnantgrump Tue 18-Apr-17 20:08:47

He's got it the wrong way round: if he doesn't seek help, he will compromise his career sooner or later. People are struck of for not addressing their problems and putting patients at risk as a result.

SoyaCoconutOrAlmond Tue 18-Apr-17 20:10:50

I'm not supporting him hide it, harder, which is why I want him to seek help. But he's mistrustful.

wickerlampshade Tue 18-Apr-17 20:11:20

So he's a doctor who is addicted to something like codeine or another opiate?

user1471558436 Tue 18-Apr-17 20:12:24

Can he have counselling but not give job details

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