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OCC-HEALTH  January 2015

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Subject:

Re: Mental Health - Fitness for work- advise desperately needed please

From:

"Connolly, Catherine Z." <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Occupational Health mailing list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:46:15 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Interesting.... I think the crux of the matter is that as an OHN we aren't 'expert' in assessing mental health - however her treating specialist is. Therefore I would make management aware that there is an underlying health issue that may bring her under the auspices of DDA and ask management to consider paying for a report from her specialist so that you can offer best advice regarding her 'fitness' in continuing in her current role. As you would perhaps do with someone with underlying physical condition that may make them more vulnerable to the physical demands of the role?

Of course you need to discuss openly with her and have her consent to request report being very  specific in the questions asked of her specialist.



Catherine



-----Original Message-----

From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Rachael Sever

Sent: 29 January 2015 09:50

To: [log in to unmask]

Subject: [OCC-HEALTH] Mental Health - Fitness for work- advise desperately needed please



Hello



I was wondering if anyone could help me regarding mental health screening for carers working with vulnerable people with learning disabilities.

I am a single handed practitioner employed as the in house occupational health nurse at an organisation who cares for people with learning disabilities.

Fitness for employment screening is performed for care workers following an offer of employment as per CQC requirements as the employee is required to be physically and mentally fit to perform their duties.  Usually during pre-employment I advise ‘fit or fit with adjustments as are reasonable practicable ‘(and I advise what adjustments are likely to be required).

However a member of staff has had frequent sickness absence due to depression and some nasty effects including suicidal ideation in their probationary period.  Their temporary contract is due to end soon and my manager / the company want me to advise if the individuals is fit to continue in a permanent position of care officer.



My concern is this….

I am happy and feel competent in advising regarding returning to work and fitness to perform duties with adjustments etc and am fully aware of all the legislation regarding disability etc; however I am concerned on making a direct decision as to whether someone is fit or not fit around mental health issues (this will end their employment). I also am reluctant to give a simple not fit (without advising adjustments) as this is against what I have learnt on Equality Act  training conferences etc). I do use the PHQ 9 & GAD assessments in my practice and can identify foreseeable risks for the residents.  It’s the unforeseeable that I worry about.  As I am not a mental health nurse or qualified in psychiatry I am concerned that if I did consider them unfit then my decision may be questioned as I believe the employee is likely to peruse legal action. 



Any advice on this case would be greatly appreciated and also any assessment tools / questions used when assessing mental health fitness for employment as I would like to make sure I am consistent with other approaches and ask similar questions when assessing mental health.



Many Thanks in advance



Regards



Rachael



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