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How much of medical records can employers see?

(13 Posts)
PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 11:08:01

Hello. I'm new. I hope it's ok to post here. I'm posting on here as it seems to be the font of all wisdom - there are some wise folks on here. And I really need help.

I'm a man, early 40s, two fantastic kids under ten. I'm separating with my wife. We have moved into separate houses. I've asked her if we can try again but she doesn't want to and has found someone new. Anyway, that's not why I'm asking for help...

I am finding this hard. Although I am a successful professional I smoked cannabis pretty much every day for 20 years. I gave up at the start of January. I do feel a lot better for it. My wife used to also smoke cannabis but quit when we were trying for our first child and has only smoked it very occasionally since.

I was happy about separating with my wife at first as we had not been getting on that well (I think my cannabis use was at least in part to blame). But in mid January she told me she was seeing someone else. I crashed emotionally. Big time. I guess I thought we'd get back together, like we have in the past. I am devastated. I am struggling to cope. I have been signed off work.

My GP wants to see me next week. I am very up and down. I worry I might have some mental health symptoms beyond the normal feelings one might have when separating with a partner of 20 years who I still love. I suspect I don't have but it's a niggle. I have not told my GP about the cannabis. A good friend say I must. My worry is the sector I work in is very anti drugs, random drug testing etc.

I will never take cannabis again. But I know if I tell my GP it will be put on my medical record. I worry future employers may find out about my history of drug use and would not want to employ me. I am aware employers can be shown parts of medical records with a potential employee's consent. I am not sure how much this is and if they would be able to find out about my past drug use.

I hope you can help me please. I feel very alone and have no one else to turn to.

Please don't tell me how stupid I am. I am very aware of that already. I am trying so hard to make everything right.

Crumbs1 Sat 04-Feb-17 11:15:03

Depends on job. Most don't see medical records and all need your consent for them to do so. Some specific ones need GP assessment filled in relating to the job (divers, HGV or public transport, pilots possibly police and armed forces come to mind) some require you to sign to say you are physically and mentally fit for the job (medicine, nursing, teaching). Most wouldn't contact your GP.

TheCustomaryMethod Sat 04-Feb-17 11:23:27

To add to Crumbs examples, consent to view medical records might be requested in any job as part of absence management if you take sick leave that your employer views as above the normal level.

How that works in my job is that the records are obtained by occupational health (external company); they then prepare a report which is sent to both employer and employee - the report is only supposed to include information relevant to the sickness absences - it's not a blanket copy of your medical records.

PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 11:33:24

Thank you both very much.

My job is not like being a teacher, nurse, policeman or soldier. It's just a regular industry in which the front line work is a little more dangerous than usual (a bit like HGV driving, construction/building etc).

sooperdooper Sat 04-Feb-17 11:36:54

Agree with crumbs, depends what kind of work you do? I've never been asked by an employer for access to my Medical records and they need good reason and your permission to view them

PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 11:58:34

Heavy industry. Big factories, large fast moving machinery, lorries etc.

I don't operate anything more dangerous than a laptop myself.

TheCustomaryMethod Sat 04-Feb-17 11:58:37

Could you, at least in the first instance, just talk to your GP about the symptoms you're experiencing, and see what they recommend, without bringing the cannabis use into it - I saw mine about depression and anxiety, and I don't recall being asked about drug use.

If your employers rely on random testing and you're always clear, I can't see why they would delve into past drug use - lots of people have used cannabis at some time in their past.

PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:23:11

Thank you.

I am slightly concerned I might have a mental illness of some sort. Since this all happened I have experienced highs and lows (mania and depression), paranoid delusions and enhanced sensations. All these are symptoms of being bipolar. I have only experienced the latter two very slightly. They could well be results of my feelings about my marriage ending and also due to cannabis withdrawal.

I have spoken to a friend who is incredbly experienced and senior in mental health (so senior he's now a top level NHS bigwig and doesn't actually treat people!).

He assures me I'm not bipolar it's just the breakup and cannabis withdrawal. But he also says I should tell my GP everything as that's always the best policy.

PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:23:56

Sorry - I forgot... I am less concerned about my current employer but more if I change employers what information they might access.

Crumbs1 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:32:12

Cannabis, as you know (I am sure) can cause mental ill health and even psychotic illness.

TheCustomaryMethod Sat 04-Feb-17 12:36:17

Other than for specific jobs, as mentioned in previous posts, where physical fitness is a matter of life and death, it's not routine to ask for medical records at hiring stage - it's classed as sensitive data, so under the Data Protection Act, they'd have to demonstrate a genuine need to obtain and process that information - which most employers wouldn't be able to do.

Your friend is an expert, so I'd go with what he says - ultimately your health should be the first consideration - a job would be no use to you if you became too ill to work.

It must be awful coping with withdrawal symptoms as well as the pain of your marriage ending - I do hope you can get some support to see you through to a better place!

PonyBoy1 Sat 04-Feb-17 13:03:13

Thank you.

I'm sorry to hear you had anxiety and depression. I have some insight into those now and realise they really are not fun.

I think I'm over the whole withdrawal. I wish I could be over my wife so easily. It's horrible and it doens't seem to get any better.

I phoned the Samaritans yesterday. The chap I spoke to listened to my situation and about my relationship about how much I loved my wife and said"Oh, well we all only get one relationship like that - if we're lucky", and "the pain never gets any better, you just have to learn to cope with it"!

I thought surely even if those things are true he shouldn't be saying them. It made me a bit cross TBH which actaually made me feel a bit better! Lolz (or whatever the kids say).

lizzyj4 Sat 11-Feb-17 10:49:04

OP if you are in Scotland, please be aware that there has recently been a lot of issues around the Named Person legislation (which are ongoing). Under this legislation, information held by GPs was required to be shared with the Named Person on request (the Named Person would usually be your child's head teacher) and they were then able to share it with others (police, social services, school governors, teaching staff, etc). Employers are not entitled to this information unless, as mentioned above, they are in certain professions, but in theory it could reach a lot of other people. Even though the Supreme Court said this information sharing was illegal, there is evidence that it is still happening. So if you are in Scotland, do be careful what you share. See: no2np.org/ for more.

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