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Advice on retiring needed!

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Hi Everyone, I haven’t posted for a while. I hope everyone is well and looking forward to Santa coming soon! 


I had a subarachnoid haemorrhage in May of 2015. I have made a fairly good recovery and returned to work part time just about a year later.  


I work as a midwife, busy, stressful and high intensity. I did have neuropsychological testing done before returning to work as this was supposed to ‘help’ my employer. 


I have found my GP practice to be very supportive, Occupational Health less so and in general the NHS very unsupportive. 


I have more mild physical issues and some issues with executive function. I didn’t return to my previous post but a post in a similar area , but I had disparaging comments and threats and was off then relocated to another area. Again- reasonable adjustments- working half days - due to chronic fatigue and being allowed to have my phone in my pocket as I use it for my diary and reminders etc.


Again, more disparaging comments, lack of insight, lack of compassion and a general sort of bully boy type atmosphere because I am not as 100% as everybody else. 


Since returning to work in May 2016 this is the 3rd time I have taken sick leave due to work related stress! 

Obviously this doesn’t help me in the slightest bit. I just wondered if any of you had similar issues and what you did about them? It is a constant round of meetings with HR and management at the minute.


I am at the end of my tether and I hope someone might be able to give me some advice. What has happened with anyone applying for retirement on ill health grounds? I am considering asking my GP about this . 


Kind regards everyone, 

Issy xx 

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Hi Issy


Im sorry your having so much trouble with others who don't understand could you contact the nursing council and union for some on going support  before you make that choice.


I do understand how you feel having been in the nhs for such a long time I find those who have no empathy or understanding need to be educated by management  but your health and well being should be the overriding factor. 


I wouldn't worry about taking sick leave  you need to due to the stress  which is  thoughtlessly  being forced on you which is unfair  talk to nursing council and union  and good luck.

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Hi Issy,


I find it a little ironic that you are suffering such a negative attitude from the organisation that saved you, and above all, should understand more then any other the issues involved in a SAH and its recovery issues.  It just goes to show that even though you work there, the staff don't fully know about the  after effects.. They visit them and hear about them but they don't experience them - hence the lack of compassion.


I know exactly what you are talking about.  Suddenly people are talking to you as though you are a lesser being, an underling, a risk, someone who is no longer a threat to their own career path.  It is borne of nought but sheer ignorance and stupidity in my opinion.  I experienced that too, and the only way for me to combat it was to out perform people, attend meetings and out think them, outspeak them and, frankly, put them in their place by doing so.  It  was the only way to make them understand.  But it was hard work and I decided I didn't need or want that anymore and it was so tiring  I decided to get out.  Best decision I ever made.  I worked in the civil service, like yours a large and thankless, unappreciative employer.


I applied for early retirement having paid into my pension scheme for many years and got it.  Get your Union to support you along with any medical advice/opinion in writing you can lay your hands on.  Your union will also get you free or heavily subsidised legal advice depending on your membership terms.


Your health is more important and there is life after your job so go for it.  Stress is the last thing you need.  Leave them to it and get out.  I'm so glad I did and I am now enjoying life to the full.


I wish you well. Let us know how you get on.

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Hi Issy


See we are both employed in the wonderful caring community of the NHS..........


My sah was Feb 2015 so slightly before you. I was employed in the private sector by a national company with a severely lacking HR department. After a hashed phased return and a lot of stress I eventually found other employment  - in the NHS.


My initial few months were fine, lot less stressful and more staff. However you cannot account for poor management. Staff left and weren't replaced consequently the pressure mounted and so did my stress. Despite neuro-psychological reports and Occ Health directives pressure was applied, mistakes were made, stress increased and eventually I cracked. It resulted in a period of sickness due to stress which is when I decided I had to protect myself.


I looked for another job -  in the NHS as the pension is very good and I am approaching that age! All I looked for was something I could live with salary wise and that wouldn't be too stressful. I have been lucky and have secured a job that although is emotionally challenging (I deal with blood cancer patients), there is no pressure on me personally. 


I have dropped hours, I only work 4 days a week having Wednesdays off to recoup midweek, something which has been key in my recovery.


Anyway enough about me. I don't know how old you are or if you are near retiring but if that is not close by have you considered dropping hours and the number of days you work? If you don't want to be medically retired maybe this would be an option. I think that as you have been involved with Occ health thay have to consider a request to do that.


Don't let them walk over you. I don't know if you are in a Union, I am not, but as you have had a medical condition I believe that have to treat you in a certain fashion. I remember my NHS Occ Health doctor telling me I could have had a new house out of my old employer if I had pursued them over my hashed return. Telling,  in that they are saying if you aren't treated right then you have rights! 


Do some research and if you don't want to retire then don't, just make them adhere to the rules they should be following!


Hope you get some results, keep us posted.


Clare xx

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Hello Issy,  many thanks for returning with your update. 


First of all, how is hubby and your two maturing teenage boys?  Two and a half years after your SAH.  Your return to work.. hubby`s work,  your boys schooling not to mention exams and career choosing decisions. 


Life goes on post SAH and there you are trying to see how you can cover all the jobs you used to do as wife, mother, house-keeper (with all that goes on in that most understated word!)... not to mention your employment as a midwife.

As is commented so often in BTG.  life getting back to normal is only achieved by a minority.


I am looking in from the `carer` viewpoint .... although even then... each family unit is different depending on how far along life`s journey you are.


Like Paul, Macca and Clare, I am shocked at how you have been treated by your employer and colleagues as you have made genuine effort to return to work as a midwife.  That is so sad.


In my wife`s situation, she had great support from her OH who monitored her return meticulously. She was left in no doubt that she would not be pushed beyond what her recovering health permitted. She eventually became full-time and continued in her stressful job for 13 months.  However, I could see that as time passed, her SAH was no longer a factor in her employer`s decisions and more and more was demanded within the full time daily hours.  She was coming home exhausted and needed complete rest before it all started over again the next day. 


I had taken early retirement when she began her full time hours and took on the role of house husband.

I cannot imagine how you have been coping ..... how has it been for your family as you have all tried to make adjustments to help you cope? 


It is clear from your comments about your work that you have tried so hard to make things work out.  The added stresses from colleagues and an employer who should know better must be very hard to live with. You don`t need that stress.


Again, in my wife`s situation the crunch came when they actually offered her promotion after 13 months back full time!  Both of us knew that the answer was a big `NO` !  Get someone else! .... and she applied for early retirement at age 56.  No regrets and she immediately returned to a less stressful job working 2 days per week.  For her a `5 day weekend` as she put it, was heaven.


For you at age 50, as Clare says, you have many things to consider.  Are you retiring on the grounds of ill health with no plans to return to any work, or do you foresee returning to work in another capacity.  The `pension` rules will differ.  I think you can ask for a quotation for both and these will stand for 6 months while you make any decisions about your future.


I am sure you and hubby have talked this over many times.  Even part-time... your work as a midwife will have more than its share of stresses. At the end of the day your own health has to be more valuable than the alternative.

The NHS Pension Department should be helpful in providing you with your options.


I am so sorry that your employer has been party to what has resulted in you saying that you are at the end of your tether. They should be ashamed. 


I do hope that you can reach a satisfactory conclusion to your dilemma.






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My Surgeon told me to keep away from stress related situations.


So I'll pass on his message to me,  to you.


I hope you can get someone that can talk to them and explain as you do a great job SAH and all xxxx


See if you can get someone to explain to those who have not been where we have !! Grrr  xxxx

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My first thought is think about your new limits and then ask yourself if you could design your ideal working role, Day, conditions , what might it look like. What can you do, how long for and what can’t you do? Does that job exist? Could it exist? Maybe in the private sector if not NHS? Do you want to continue to work?


Ask these questions first and if you think you are ready to retire like Macca chose then start that conversation under medical grounds. 


If you want to continue then you have the right not to be treated unfairly at work as the result of your SAH  and any resulting brain injury caused by the bleed and I put that bluntly as that is your right under UK law but it can be harder to prove in practice. 


Your employer  it seems have already made some and good allowances and adjustment like helping you find new posts, adapting some working conditions. Whether this is ‘reasonable’ enough or whether they are prepared to help more can only be found by talking with them openly. It seems to me that the problem is not the change to working practice but the harassment you now face for having these adjustments in place, so that’s where the talking needs to start.


I’d start with the people who have helped and supported you to date and see what options there are. Often talking really does help. Both sides. 


Be clear about what you are encountering and what ‘good’ would look like. Don’t expect them to know. Explain things to them and yes take someone with you if you want to be represented in any discussions. 


Good luck with whatver you decide. I would hope you can take your skills and experiences and use them in a different way...how about training new midwives?...



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I think everyone gave you great ideas already. You only know your health/ condition.  


Do you want to continue working at the same job, can you work 4 hours per day instead? Can you switch to something less stressful and work longer hours?


Those are some questions you want to ask. 

Here in the US, we have FMLA forms where your doctor can fill out. That allows you time off for some days that you might be sick.


I always have to fill them out for my patients with migraines, gout, asthma, Ibs etc.   You might also want a short letter from your primary care doctor or neurologist explaining why you need time off and how serious your condition is.


Hope this helps and good luck to you.

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I've had a similar situation with my job as i've had a lot of time off sick due to headaches and fatigue which triggered stage 1 of my employers sickness procedures. I sought advice from my union rep who said that as i am now viewed as having a disability. Reasonable adjustments have to be made relating to "Provision Criteria & Practice".


Both him and the OT who assessed me when i was about to return to work, felt that there should be a relaxation of absence rules and limits, with a recognised difference made between sickness and disability absence, and that any absence relating to my disability should not trigger the sickness procedures, otherwise they would be discriminating against me according to the Equalities Act. 

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In order to prevent me taking any more time off, i have asked them to make another reasonable adjustment by allowing me to temporarily work a 4 day week, which they have agreed to, with it to be reviewed in february. 


I must admit, i would love to retire early (im 53) and so have been reading the above posts with great interest. Totally understand why you are contemplating doing so. But if youre not ready for that yet, my advice to you would be to reduce your working hours.


Hope all of that makes sense. Good luck. Xx

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Hi Claudette,


I am finding reading others thoughts and actions to be helpful and also somewhat of a relief that I am not alone..I am struggling with my job, mainly from fatigue.  My job is fast paced when we are busy and I find myself beyond tired at the end of the shift..I have cut my hours and it did help..I make myself take my breaks, which I never did...it is sometimes very hard and sometimes not so much.  I plan to continue as long as I am able..but I am discovering ways for the new me to exist in my old world ....I wish you well in your recovery .... 

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Hi Issy and Claudette. ..

Sorry not been on for a while but I have had back to back rehab and it's flooring me and now the winter lurgy .


I am a union rep and they do have to make reasonable adjustments under law.  ie changing days for you, hours for you. If they decline these they have to prove financial impact to the company and you can legally ask them to see the figures (they never like that as it means they are usually talking rubbish)..


They can also give extra breaks and yes dispensation for phones etc. If they don't abide by these , keep a diary of everything even all comments and meetings and these can be used against them.


Also if you go sick due to work putting on you make sure your line says work related stress on it as then they have to answer to that. 


They won't keep us employed forever but they can also look to a role more suited to your needs or you can invoke your pension benefits. HR should advise on this. Group income pension.


It's ironic I am in the same boat as you and my company have already invoked the pension stuff just now as i am nowhere ready to go back ,they said I'm a liability , I am, I have no filter and memory issues.  


They are making rumblings at me too, when will I be ready, work policies on absence but I am hanging in there.  

I hope this isn't too jumbled and can maybe help you xx

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Hi Issy


And another Scotty Yay! sorry your having a rotten time of it, I had the SAH then viral meningitis just after I was made redundant from my job so it was taken out of my hands (I could have went to a tribuneral but the brain thought it too much) and from that day of the SAH I have never worked..



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Aw thank you everyone,

thanks so so much for your replies and advice. My head hasn’t been in a very good  since before Christmas. 

It is ironic that the folk that saved me are now causing me all this stress. They just don’t realise the impact it has on already finding the day ahead hard enough! 


I have a meeting next week with management and HR , occupational health have been as helpful as a chocolate teapot to be honest. Union support has been sporadic due to their own work commitments. 


I took note of everything as I realised pretty quick when I returned to work that they expected more of me in terms of shift work and demands like on call etc. I cannot shake this fatigue and only do three days a week but split into half days so I am there everyday. I think they can’t seem to realise that for 4.5 hours they get a member of staff that is sensible and not going to make mistakes but after that time I’m tired and my concentration goes and that’s when mistakes would be made. I have tried to do as well as I can but I am not going to put up with the condescending remarks and comments. I, like you all here have survived something absolutely immense , not to be treated badly in return. 


After the next meeting I saw my gp and then neuro the week after. He was livid as last time I saw him I had similar stuff going on. The NHS is so service driven they don’t care about the staff. I feel well and truly let down by them. I think because I ‘look ‘ fine, no bandage, scar, stitches then it is difficult for colleagues to comprehend that there is an invisible disability. 


I have been really perked up by your replies, now I just plan over the next couple of weeks to get through these meetings and see what the future holds. My hubby and family are very supportive if I wanted to leave but, I do actually like my job. 


Oh well, watch this space, I will keep you updated. Xxx 

kind regards to you all, Issy xx 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay....... update is that have had a real heart to heart with hubby and kids, friends and family and all you wonderful people on here. 

I am feeling less stressed and less depressed now and can think just that little bit more clearly (just a bit) 

I have now developed an eye condition that luckily I can have laser surgery for to prevent glaucoma developing. This has been, for me, the straw that broke the camels back. 


I have an existing kidney disorder, brain injury, vertigo, balance problems, parasthesia, neuropathy, tinnitus and Hyperacusis. My Gp and Neurosurgeon are both 100% behind me if I want to go ahead and apply for ill health retirement. 


I wanted to return to work and I did, I would want to stay but I can just see the next few years being a continual pattern of difficult days and poor support. Both of these health professionals were aghast at the way I have been treated. There just is no need. 


Still mulling it over in my head, it wouldn’t be a life changing amount but I could manage! (Scottish and super-thrifty!) it would be difficult to do any other job due to the Hyperacusis (I have thought about funeral director- as at least it would be quiet) please don’t be offended by that comment, I mean it seriously and have the greatest respect for any one passing through one side to the other. 


I have taken advice from your comments and I hope as the next few weeks go by I can keep you updated with whatever happens. 

Thank you all 

Issy x 

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I have been retired over three years now and I went early.  My mortgage is paid off and now I don't have to pay petrol, car park fees, collections, lunches etc, I am hardly any worse off than when I was at work.


You need to do your sums of course, but it's achievable and it's better than working for a living.  You can also get a part time job with less stress or work for yourself etc so it isn't all doom and gloom.  Go for it if you can!


As one door closes, another opens!

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Absolutely Mecca, we would be mortgage free , hubby works, no other debts and as you say no parking, commute, petrol etc. I do a lot of craft stuff, I used to combine that with my job before (as I had enough oomph then) I would be able to go back to that. There are options, just working in the NHS is not one of them. 

Onwards and upwards! 

Issy x 

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Glad to hear you are coming to probably some sensible acceptance of leaving your job with the NHS. 

It is always sad when we have to leave jobs we previously enjoyed through no fault of our own. Unfortunately the legacy of SAH is that we have to look out for number 1 as no one else will. You have to be selfish and think what is good for YOU and if that is retiring go for it.


Money is often a big factor in this type of decision but you seem to have that covered which is good. If you can get back to doing some of that craft stuff go for it as it will give you some purpose and fulfilment. 


Good luck Issy, just a sad indication of the way the NHS can treat staff. I am lucky with my current manager but maybe as she has had brain surgery herself she’s a little more understanding. 



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Well done Issy and family for working through this and sounds like a very pragmatic sensible approach. You could also look at training and being a celebrant maybe , so conducting funeral services rather than being in the funeral parlour as that also requires a level of compassion and dignity that I’m sure your orevious job and experiences have afforded you. 


Take care, I wish you luck and keep us updated how it goes for you, 



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Hello Issy....


Well done for taking the time with your family and `friends` to help make that important decision about your future employment.


Your own health and wellbeing are so important.  I am sure any sacrifices you may have to make will be more than compensated with the feeling of release from a very stressful work life with no end in sight to the heavy workload.


Your comments about `funeral work`  reminded me of my dearly departed neighbour who often said during our chats..... `We are in the `departure lounge` He always made me smile when he said this.


Take care... you wont regret it.






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Hi Issy


Yep we are canny Scots we think financial before our health...


I found that there was just no way I could go back to the job I was doing or any other for that matter part time, full time, voluntary if I was to have any kind of life it wasn't going to work if you factor in normal stuff like housework, cooking ect...


Well done and good luck honey.

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  • 2 weeks later...


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