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Hi, my name is Poppy71! Is there any point applying for IHR?

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Poppy71
Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
edited May 3 in Work and employment
Hi, 

Please can anyone help. 

I have Fibromyalgia, CFS, (started 5 yrs ago following Shingles and meningitis) as well as other health conditions. Asthma, Osteoarthrosis and urology problems since bladder repair.

I have worked as a nurse for over 33 yrs.  Unfortunately the last 5 have been traumatic.  I have explored every adjustment to stay in work but unfortunately this has led to resentment from colleagues and I have still had long periods of time off sick despite flexible working, wfh (community nurse) working part time and using A/L at short notice to have time of due to symptoms.

My CFS and Fibromyalgia symptoms became worse following covid infection 12 months ago and not been able to return to work.

I have had regular sessions with a psychologist via OH and come to the realise that work is a trigger for my symptoms and also lead to me being severly depressed and suicidal prior to going off sick this time.  

I have also faced capability meetings....  Brain fog, memory problems and my cognitive decline has led to mistakes and not being able to keep up with workload.

My Gp, manager, HR and both my consultants,  Endocrinology and Rheumatology are supportive in me applying for Ill Health Retirement.  I have a letter/evidence from both.

Unfortunately the Occupational health Doctor who did my assessment was very dismissive of my journey/Symptoms and kept 'cutting me off' mid sentence.  Despite supportive letters from both consultants she summarised that at 52 I would probably be better soon and could probably find a job working from home.  When I disagreed and explained It was unlikely I could learn a new job and would still have same problems she told me not to be pessimistic.

Is there any point applying for IHR? I'm pretty sure her report for the AW33e form will not support IHR.

Do I have to have Occupational Health fill out the form?

I feel I have done my best throughout my career and obviously would still be doing the job i love if i was well enough!  The Occupational Health Doctor spoke to me like I was lazy and told me if i lost weight i would feel better!  I have put on a lot of weight due to my symptoms 😔



Comments

  • Albus_Scope
    Albus_Scope Posts: 5,307 Scope online community team
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    Hey there @Poppy71 and welcome to the community. :)

    I'm so sorry to hear about your journey and how you kept getting cut off by the doctor, that sounds very unfair of them. I'd say the best people to speak to regarding this would be ACAS, they specialise in all things work law related. I'm really hoping you can find a solution that really works for you, especially if you love your job. 
    Albus (he/him)

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  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 117 Pioneering
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    Poppy71 said:
    Hi, 

    Please can anyone help. 

    I have Fibromyalgia, CFS, (started 5 yrs ago following Shingles and meningitis) as well as other health conditions. Asthma, Osteoarthrosis and urology problems since bladder repair.

    I have worked as a nurse for over 33 yrs.  Unfortunately the last 5 have been traumatic.  I have explored every adjustment to stay in work but unfortunately this has led to resentment from colleagues and I have still had long periods of time off sick despite flexible working, wfh (community nurse) working part time and using A/L at short notice to have time of due to symptoms.

    My CFS and Fibromyalgia symptoms became worse following covid infection 12 months ago and not been able to return to work.

    I have had regular sessions with a psychologist via OH and come to the realise that work is a trigger for my symptoms and also lead to me being severly depressed and suicidal prior to going off sick this time.  

    I have also faced capability meetings....  Brain fog, memory problems and my cognitive decline has led to mistakes and not being able to keep up with workload.

    My Gp, manager, HR and both my consultants,  Endocrinology and Rheumatology are supportive in me applying for Ill Health Retirement.  I have a letter/evidence from both.

    Unfortunately the Occupational health Doctor who did my assessment was very dismissive of my journey/Symptoms and kept 'cutting me off' mid sentence.  Despite supportive letters from both consultants she summarised that at 52 I would probably be better soon and could probably find a job working from home.  When I disagreed and explained It was unlikely I could learn a new job and would still have same problems she told me not to be pessimistic.

    Is there any point applying for IHR? I'm pretty sure her report for the AW33e form will not support IHR.

    Do I have to have Occupational Health fill out the form?

    I feel I have done my best throughout my career and obviously would still be doing the job i love if i was well enough!  The Occupational Health Doctor spoke to me like I was lazy and told me if i lost weight i would feel better!  I have put on a lot of weight due to my symptoms 😔



    Hi, sorry to hear about the problems that you have had and are continuing to experience….having a condition/s and maintaining work isn’t always easy and at times can be downright problematic.

    It is obviously quite a stressful way to live your life…..been there ref IHR and done that!!!

    A few things I would say is…

    Dont pay any attention to what others might think….THEY are not living your life, you are

    I am not sure what pension scheme you are on but I would get a copy of the scheme policy asap and look over it in detail…..and then reread it in even more detail.
    the policy specific to your pension will give the exact descriptors that someone applying for IHR will need to meet. Words like permanent, permanency, likelihood, probability will all be used and are common to all pension policies, but they hold very specific information on what the medical Officer is looking at. If you yourself are not confident that you meet the descriptors then it would be unlikely that you would be successful.

    Do not start the IHR process unless you are reasonably confident that you can meet the criteria. As soon as you do, you are basically stating to your employer that you do not think you are fit for your work. You could withdraw from the IHR application process at any time but I am guessing any employer would then look to terminate your employment as you yourself have raised concerns.

    You need to be aware that various illnesses, conditions are difficult for medical professionals to really tie down and this is unhelpful for the medical Officer who is wanting certainty around your application.
    If they believe that you may get better or have other medical options open to you, then they are likely to refuse your application….it can be helpful to Google specific condition forums ref IHR and perhaps see how they have found the process

    Usually IHR will have various tiers or levels of award. Depending on what one you might get, they will all have their own very specific rules and it is important to be aware of this as higher tiers usually mean that you are not allowed to find other employment etc
    You should also be aware that any award regardless of tier would likely include a lump sum which may put you over the savings threshold for other benefits.

    For most people it is not a “is there any point in applying” , it is the very last option open to them due to the severity of their condition, illness or disability….If you are concerned about the OH report then ask to be referred again. Be honest about the difficulties you are having and how it effects you, remind them that reasonable adjustments have been used but that these are becoming unworkable.

    Feel free to ask questions and I will do my utmost to help with advice or point you in the right direction..I wasn’t NHS but was civil service and received higher tier award ….before and throughout my application I made sure I knew the ins and outs of everything to with the process.

    kindest
    Scott
  • Poppy71
    Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
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    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me Scott.  My husband is still working and is a very fit and active 60yrs so we are reliant at the moment on his income.  I am dependant on my husband and daughter regarding all household tasks and shopping etc.  I Say is there any point applying for IHR - because of the attitude of the OH heath doctor doing my assessment to complete the forms.  Living off my husbands income is tight but he is worried about the stress and impact on my health (as am i) on going down a process which ultimately due to the report will not end in me being accepted.  I have lots of other paperwork/evidence but feel as the OH doctor has done the assessment 'thats the last word' so to speak.

    My husband feels I've been through enough already and says he would rather get a 2nd job than see me so unwell emotionally.  However I feel its unfair as due to my health have no other options to continue working as each time ive tried to go back on a phased return NHS within a short time i've had to go off sick again.  Its not fair on work collegues - some who  have openly shown resentment/bullying behaviour towards me due to my sickness record and work adjustments! Obviously this also affects my mental health and self esteem.

    My main concern is if I can stop and then start the process again with my Gp or specialist filling out the forms or if it has to be Occupational health?

    I have already got the AW33e forms which state my dismissal due to ill health (I am a ok with this as I have accepted that im not well enough to go back to work).  I'm hoping in the future i might be well enough to do some voluntary work for a few hrs.

    Best wishes
     
  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 117 Pioneering
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    Hi again, no worries, if I can help then I am more than happy too

    for anyone living with an illness, condition or disability just being at work can be a huge stressor and it’s easy to continue plodding on regardless of how it’s making you feel….i would say that you are typical in respect of stop start sick periods and of using leave as a last minute alternative to going off sick, I have definitely done that.

    It would also be likely necessary to have a prolonged period such as you describe before applying for IHR as it paints a picture as to your journey.

    Try though to keep records of everything, so letters, decisions, meetings emails, contact with HR etc.

    I think that the majority of people even considering IHR have reached a stage where they themselves have realised that the status quo cannot continue. It took me years to want too acknowledge that I wasn’t coping….Its funny though because as soon as I had made the decision to apply for IHR it was a real weight lifted of my shoulders and I felt that I had room again to breath.

    Unfortunately my condition is classed as terminal under Scottish rules so I was pretty confident that I would be awarded IHR before applying, but it certainly wasn’t guaranteed….and I still didn’t take it for granted.

    Finances moving forward is obviously the biggest concern people have, and rightly so, it’s not easy at the moment coping on two wages coming in.

    Can I ask how old you are and what is your retirement age?

    I know IHR has been suggested and if you get it, it can be a good thing moving forward, the problem is that not everyone applying gets it despite having conditions that are clearly evidenced and causing problems….The medical Officer isn’t really concerned about what condition you have though, they are primarily looking at permanency and whether there is any scope for improvement or whether the condition will progressively get worse. They will obviously look into which ways you are struggling with regards work too. This is where you have to be honest with yourself when you try and match against the pension descriptors.

    If for any reason you think you will not meet the descriptors then you really need to step back from IHR as once you apply and it’s refused that’s it…..yes you can appeal but you would likely need to bring substantially more evidence to refute what they have based their judgement on.

    It may be worth looking into whether you could be offered redundancy or workplace capability instead of IHR

     capability is an award that is different from IHR in as much as you don’t draw any pension until your retirement age as normal, but it would likely give you a monetary award meantime with the termination of your contract.

    a capability or redundancy award might be able too see you through until retirement time, and also allow you to find work doing something else less problematical.

    regarding OH process, you are well within your rights to complain to the OH provider about anything you are unhappy about…. I have twice

    lastly, don’t resign however difficult it may be meantime. If you resign you have limited your options and this can effect any benefits that you may be entitled too.

    Have you looked into applying for PIP, this is not means tested and is primarily to do with how your condition/s effect you on a day to day basis
    There are lots of horror stories currently about the Government and PIP and other benefits, ignore them, it is currently business as usual with regards applying.

    Feel free to ask questions, not an expert but hopefully can help

    scott

  • Poppy71
    Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
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    This really is very helpful Scott.  Once again thank you for your time.  Sorry to hear of your own health status.  

    I have applied for Pip and had really good resources from work and benefits site so fingers crossed.

    Definitely not resigning but more than happy at my next meeting for them to finish me due to ill health.  My manager has been really helpful in trying to help with reasonable adjustments but as you said I have also eventually had to admit to myself that I can not continue.

    My quality of life when trying to maintain work (even on 3 short days) means I have no energy or motivation to go out of the house for pleasure.  My mental health suffers and this impacts not just on me but my husband and family.  I have unfortunately lost my friendship group and social life barr 2 close friends who understand my struggles. 

    Despite the financial worries,  I am definitely doing better with my mental health. I'm feeling more positive about spending some quality time with my family and working with my physio to increase my physical activity very slowly to find a happy place.  Just having a coffee with my bestie is a great feeling.  

    I'll defintely take your advice.  I'm thinking of stopping the process for now and getting some more information and research done so I have a better chance of success.

    What happens when you complain about Occupational health? Did you get a different doctor?  I'm also going to ask Acas as Albus_scope suggested to ask if I can do the forms without input from OH once I have been dismissed.

    Hope this thread might be helpful also to others going through similar.

    Best wishes




  • luvpink
    luvpink Community member Posts: 111 Pioneering
    Options
    Poppy71 said:
    Hi, 

    Please can anyone help. 

    I have Fibromyalgia, CFS, (started 5 yrs ago following Shingles and meningitis) as well as other health conditions. Asthma, Osteoarthrosis and urology problems since bladder repair.

    I have worked as a nurse for over 33 yrs.  Unfortunately the last 5 have been traumatic.  I have explored every adjustment to stay in work but unfortunately this has led to resentment from colleagues and I have still had long periods of time off sick despite flexible working, wfh (community nurse) working part time and using A/L at short notice to have time of due to symptoms.

    My CFS and Fibromyalgia symptoms became worse following covid infection 12 months ago and not been able to return to work.

    I have had regular sessions with a psychologist via OH and come to the realise that work is a trigger for my symptoms and also lead to me being severly depressed and suicidal prior to going off sick this time.  

    I have also faced capability meetings....  Brain fog, memory problems and my cognitive decline has led to mistakes and not being able to keep up with workload.

    My Gp, manager, HR and both my consultants,  Endocrinology and Rheumatology are supportive in me applying for Ill Health Retirement.  I have a letter/evidence from both.

    Unfortunately the Occupational health Doctor who did my assessment was very dismissive of my journey/Symptoms and kept 'cutting me off' mid sentence.  Despite supportive letters from both consultants she summarised that at 52 I would probably be better soon and could probably find a job working from home.  When I disagreed and explained It was unlikely I could learn a new job and would still have same problems she told me not to be pessimistic.

    Is there any point applying for IHR? I'm pretty sure her report for the AW33e form will not support IHR.

    Do I have to have Occupational Health fill out the form?

    I feel I have done my best throughout my career and obviously would still be doing the job i love if i was well enough!  The Occupational Health Doctor spoke to me like I was lazy and told me if i lost weight i would feel better!  I have put on a lot of weight due to my symptoms 😔





    Hi Poppy
    My situation was very similar to yours.
    I became too unwell to continue doing my job despite reasonable adjustments and being redeployed to a different role.
    My managers were very unsupportive and quite honestly they made my life hell because I had to take so much time off sick.
    I was supported by my gp and two rheumatologist who diagnosed fibromyalgia and cfs
    I had the assistance of an rcn rep' and seemed to be more in support of my employer than supporting me.
    I was off sick for twelve months and I had to attend meetings.
    The occupational health Doctor wrote a report stating I could return to work in some capacity and this completely contradicted the evidence supplied by my gp and the specialist rheumatologist.

    I did persevere and I was turned down twice for IHR.
    It took me over three years to finally have it granted and it took its toll on my health but I got there in the end.
    I was given teir two the highest level and each year until I reached age 55 the pensions agency sent me a form to declare whether or not I had engaged in any paid employment because if I had they would have reduced my award to teir one and less money.
    I felt harassed and it was extremely stressful.
    I hope this helps you.

  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 117 Pioneering
    Options
    Poppy71 said:
    This really is very helpful Scott.  Once again thank you for your time.  Sorry to hear of your own health status.  

    I have applied for Pip and had really good resources from work and benefits site so fingers crossed.

    Definitely not resigning but more than happy at my next meeting for them to finish me due to ill health.  My manager has been really helpful in trying to help with reasonable adjustments but as you said I have also eventually had to admit to myself that I can not continue.

    My quality of life when trying to maintain work (even on 3 short days) means I have no energy or motivation to go out of the house for pleasure.  My mental health suffers and this impacts not just on me but my husband and family.  I have unfortunately lost my friendship group and social life barr 2 close friends who understand my struggles. 

    Despite the financial worries,  I am definitely doing better with my mental health. I'm feeling more positive about spending some quality time with my family and working with my physio to increase my physical activity very slowly to find a happy place.  Just having a coffee with my bestie is a great feeling.  

    I'll defintely take your advice.  I'm thinking of stopping the process for now and getting some more information and research done so I have a better chance of success.

    What happens when you complain about Occupational health? Did you get a different doctor?  I'm also going to ask Acas as Albus_scope suggested to ask if I can do the forms without input from OH once I have been dismissed.

    Hope this thread might be helpful also to others going through similar.

    Best wishes




    Hey,

    Phewww, glad some of what I have written was helpful lol

    with regards to your mental health and having lost contact with your friendship group. Have you looked into support groups for your conditions….i was very reluctant only being 53 and male!! But I have found that it has been good for me to be around like minded individuals who share some of the same medical issues I have….you also end up learning lots more about things as others have been there and done that so to speak, groups can often signpost you onto other groups, rehabilitation groups or help… might be an idea to look into anything in your area.

    Take a breather by all means ref IHR but be aware that you have to apply for this whilst working, you cannot apply retrospectively. You certainly couldn’t in the civil service.
     Unfortunately OH would have to be part of the process for IHR. I had a read over the form AW33 e you mentioned and there is a part that they have to complete…..the chief medical Officer looking at any application would reject the form without all parts being complete.

    I would suggest making a complaint to the OH provider stating your reasons in detail and how you would like things to be resolved..be civil but to the point, ie another referral to someone else, taking medical professional opinion or evidence into account etc….ideally this would be done fairly soon after your report was generated.You are best informing HR that you have made a complaint too so people can’t accuse you of going behind their backs, it just keeps everyone in the loop.

    If you are in a union, regardless of how useless they might be, get them involved and up to speed with where you stand.If you don’t get much joy from local reps ask to speak to the regional rep…local reps tend to be stuck between a rock and a hard place as they mediate between you and your employer…it can take a strong individual to let pressure from an employer wash over them.

    And Breathhhhh.

    let us know how you get on as it can be helpful to others who find themselves in a similar position.
  • Poppy71
    Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Options
    Thanks for looking at the form thats so good of you.  Unfortunately Unison have been a total waste of time and region rep was annoyed with me for complaining but unwittingly gave me another rep who is really nice but I guess not much more knowlegeable than me and not assertive.  (Hence why im looking for advice on here).  My meeting to dismiss me is very soon and already been rearranged twice.  I'm guessing then once dismissed im unable to apply so will have to go with report privided my current doctor 😔  

    Thanks for signposting re groups - i've joined one locally on fb but not been to a meeting yet.  Hoping to do so soon tho 👍
  • Bydand
    Bydand Community member Posts: 117 Pioneering
    Options
    Poppy71 said:
    Thanks for looking at the form thats so good of you.  Unfortunately Unison have been a total waste of time and region rep was annoyed with me for complaining but unwittingly gave me another rep who is really nice but I guess not much more knowlegeable than me and not assertive.  (Hence why im looking for advice on here).  My meeting to dismiss me is very soon and already been rearranged twice.  I'm guessing then once dismissed im unable to apply so will have to go with report privided my current doctor 😔  

    Thanks for signposting re groups - i've joined one locally on fb but not been to a meeting yet.  Hoping to do so soon tho 👍
    Hi,
    I have had a look at the RCN website. Have you contacted the advice team they have? . 

    Go to RCN website and type in advice team in search area….it will bring up….how to contact the advice team

    the information there is self explanatory.

    sorry that I can’t be of more help.

    Scott

  • Poppy71
    Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Options
    That's great thanks so much Scott.  Very much appreciate the time you have spent helping me.  Have a lovely weekend 😊
  • wendy1
    wendy1 Community member Posts: 65 Courageous
    Options
    Hi Poppy71,
    So sorry to hear about your negative journey. Have you made any progress
  • Poppy71
    Poppy71 Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Options
    So i'm just doing some reading around the advice at the moment.  Got a few phone calls to make early next week and will give an update. 

    Have a lovely weekend everyone 😊
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