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Occupational Health Reports for Employers in Relation to COVID19

The proposal to re-open schools (in additional to some other workplaces) at the beginning of June has created an understandable amount of anxiety amongst teachers and other staff members with medical conditions. Some schools / employers have reacted to this by saying that employees need to get a report / letter from their GP saying what they can / cannot do. Unfortunate this is not possible for a number of different reasons

1)      At a time when the NHS in general is under strain it is clearly not possible for General Practice to be asked to generate an individual report for each and every patient returning to work

2)      Even if it were feasible this is not work provided through the NHS. Although we do offer (and charge for) privately services not available on the NHS we do not offer a formal  Occupational Health service (which a detailed report of this kind would fall under)

3)      An individual’s risk depends on a number of different factors at the workplace including their employer’s general risk mitigation strategy in relation to ability to social distance, policy on sick colleagues, use of face-coverings / gloves / hand sanitiser, use of communal equipment etc. It is not possible to advise on what an individual can / cannot do in isolation as it sits within the overarching management plan / Occupational Health COVID plan.

4)      The legal responsibility to protect employees from infection and illness while at work sits solely with the employer. They can choose to deputise this responsibility to an Occupational Health department and clearly at the moment (while trying to deal with such a significant outbreak) many employers are choosing to do so.  Employers should not suggest that this is somehow within the remit or capacity of NHS General Practice.

5)      In many workplaces (including schools) a return to work under the current guidance would be tricky verging on unfeasible. It is likely further guidance and changes to current rules will come out nearer the time and clearly we cannot predict what the advice will be nearer the time of schools opening / workplaces re-opening.

We are able to provide patients with a brief summary which confirms current diagnoses. This can also state any medication on repeat or recently prescribed. We are also able to provide patients with copies of any clinic letters or discharge summaries that we have received from hospital. Employers can then use this information directly or use an Occupational Health service to decide on any restrictions to duties. If you would like this information please e-mail our team on admin.whmc@nhs.net and they can advise on any additional steps / proof of ID required to provide this information. 

If your employer says that this does not suffice then please direct them to this section of our website. If despite the above an employer wants a bespoke written letter detailing diagnoses, details of severity and other such information then they need to contact us directly so we can advise of fees, limitations on advice possible and likely timescales for the provision of the report.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter. We are keen to (as ever) help our patients in any way we can but there are limits on what we can provide when this sits outside of the remit of the NHS, outside of the remit of general practice and needs to be reviewed as part of an overarching risk mitigation / COVID plan at the workplace.

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