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As I have been off work for almost 6 months now, my employer needs to involve occupational health. I was really worried about this until yesterday when I had a meeting with my manager and HR. I explained that I am really worried that the OH report will state that I am ok to return to work. I have had seemingly a rather rapid recovery and do well most days, (that said I've just had a hideous week!) to look at and for a very short chat, I appear like nothing is wrong with me. I know that I couldn't cope with the noise and the multi-tasking though. I told HR that this is what worries me and straight away she said she is not expecting me to come near work any time soon and that I've to put it out of my mind. What a relief! I was wondering though, what will be involved in their assesment? Is it mostly an interview or will there be tasks to perform?

Any thoughts would be most welcome!

Dawn x

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Hi Dawn

This is the 3rd time I've typed this reply, my computer is playing silly beggars!

Your first appointment will be a chat. You will either see an OH nurse or the OH doctor, the doctor is a GP who has done the OH course. There shouldn't be any tasks or tests. Your manager will have written a referral to OH and you are entitled to see what has been written about you. I would suggest that you ask to see it, it can help to see what questions your manager has asked OH. There's a report written after every appointment and you are entitled to have a copy of this, again it's helpful to see what is being said about you. You can aslo bring someone along to sit in on the consultation, I took my husband to some of my appointments because I could forget what the doc said or forget to ask some questions! If OH think some tests may be helpful, ie neuro tests, they will discuss this with you. Neither will they tell you when you should return to work, they may want to discuss your return to find out what support you will need but if you are not ready then they will support you. I found OH very supportive and really helpful. Good luck with your appointment.

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Hi Dawn, I have been back at work since last April. But my return was carefully planned and supervised when finally agreed.

I visited OH at the request of my Employers before returning and am glad I did. I like you was a bit wary, what are they going to do? what will they ask me? what if I cannot do some of the old things? the list was endless.

The doctor I saw was brilliant and put me at ease right away. He explained that he was here to look after my interests not my Employers. It was his job to assess the situation and recommend the best course of action for me. He said that what ever was agreed was flexible and could be changed if I could not cope. He told my wife who came with me that it was her job along with my Employers to "rein me in" if I got carried away with my own enthusiasm.

A plan was drawn up to start back on three half days a week, progress to four half days, then add one day and three half days until eventually I reached a full week. It was at this point that I found myself fatigued. I was sent back to OH and the doctor suggested I try four days for a month. He said that I may have found my limit and would have to accept my limitations. After four weeks I must confess I had adjusted to the regime and was not complaining of fatigue.

However I did make changes to my new lifestyle at work. I used to be an NVQ Assessor Trainer involving daily travelling to Companies and then several hours onsite Assessing. Travel home and then several hours working on Admin in the Garage before repeating the routine the next day. I can no longer travel as far and am limited to working locally. I never take work home any more. I always have my lunch. I always stop for a mid morning coffee. If I am in College I have screen breaks. These are all new rules that I have had to incorporate into my working routine. My colleagues and line managers have been fantastic and are fully aware of my illness.

I found OH very supportive and I know that even now as I approach 10 months in I can still contact them for support. Yes there were questions originally asked by the doctor that included did he think I would be able to return to work and perform a reasonable level of performance or should I be medically finished. Be honest with the doctor and you might be surprised how much support you get. Do not be afraid to speak up if you have any concerns OH are there to support you.

Take care and best of luck.

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Than you very much for both the in-depth replies, they have moved the little knot of dread that was forming! I have an appointment to see my GP this morning, I want to speak to him before OH do. It's been a little while since I saw him last because the surgery have a machine where you can check your own blood pressure and then simply hand the reading in.

Dawn x

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