When a member of staff is off sick and you need medical advice on how to handle their return to work, many employers request a medical report from their GP. However, for various reasons it’s been found that getting a report from your employee’s GP may not provide the most relevant information for your business, and certainly isn’t the timeliest of procedures.
Asking for help from Occupational Health (OH) advisors ends up being faster, far more effective and less costly in the long run, even though their medical reports tend to be more expensive than a GP’s.
Why use an OH service rather than the GP?
There are many reasons why, not least because GP reports usually only tell you the bare minimum based on what their patient has told them in the confines of the GP surgery.
- GP’s don’t see your employee at work, and how their illness or condition affects them in the workplace.
- GP reports tend to be minimal, partly from their own time constraints and partly because they tend to repeat what your employee has said and whether they agree the diagnosis or not.
- GP’s are incredibly overstretched these days, especially with the NHS being badly under resourced. So, their reports can take a while to be written up and sent to you.
- Often, it’s you who has to spend valuable time chasing up your employee to make sure they attend their appointment, and then more time chasing for the GP report. Whereas all this chasing is done for you by the OH provider, saving you both time and angst.
OH specialists recommend that you request a medical report as early as possible through their services without going through the employee’s GP first. This not only saves time, but also allows you to take action sooner, helping the employee back at work far sooner, too. Allowing, of course, for the time it takes to put in place any recommended adjustments prior to their return.
Other benefits of going direct to an OH service provider include:
- Depending on the size of the OH provider, they may have their own in-house specialists, such as physiotherapists, psychologists, ergonomists or occupational hygienists. If not, they will have a bank of OH specialists they can call on.
- Having access to specialist OH services ensures a faster response than via the NHS.
- Specialist OH reports are written clearly and simply, and specifically for your business.
- OH providers have the medical knowledge to act on any information they are provided with, which in turn helps them to advise you on how to support your employees, especially if their condition is likely to be covered by disability discrimination legislation.
- For skeletal or muscular issues, OH physiotherapists or ergonomists will usually be able to assess your staff member on your premises to get a true reflection of their problems.
- OH specialists will help you if there’s any need to dismiss a staff member, such as for ill-health capability or retirement, reducing any risk of a claim.
- Often, OH can provide confidential health advice and counselling for you employees, or signpost them to other organisations.
- OH providers will also undertake Stress Audits to measure any risks to your employees’ mental health, such as excessive work pressure.
- OH can help you to comply with Health & Safety regulations, too.
- To help prevent work-related illness, OH providers will carry out health surveillance (HSE) programmes and flu jab clinics.
Ultimately, OH services are a cost-effective way of keeping your staff healthy in the workplace and helping them back to work quickly after illness.
For further information on sickness absence and Occupational Health, or if you have any other issues you need help with, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.