Obtaining Medical Reports
The care service must request details from medical practitioners about the state of health of employees only when that information is considered essential for employment purposes.
The service’s policy is in line with Schedule 3 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010, which requires that employers obtain “satisfactory information about any physical or mental health conditions which are relevant to the person’s ability” to carry out the work. This requirement is also reflected in the Care Quality Commission Guidance about Compliance: Essential Standards of Quality and Safety, Outcome 12: Requirements Relating to Workers, which requires that staff are not placed at risk by the work they do and do not present a risk to service users because of an illness or medical condition they have. Employees will be fully informed of their rights of access to any such reports.
- The decision to request a medical report about an employee is explained to the applicant so that the service is able to comply with its legal requirements.
- Permission from the employee to approach the medical practitioner is obtained. The manager explains fully to the employee the reasons for the request.
- At the time permission is sought the individual must be informed in detail of his or her rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and/or the Data Protection Act 1998 (if appropriate). Managers will ensure that employees’ attention is clearly drawn to the information on access rights.
- If individuals have any queries on their rights, they are to be referred to the manager.
- An employee who unreasonably refuses to give permission for the service to obtain a report will be interviewed by the manager and his or her reasons explored. If the individual persists in the refusal, the manager will explain that decisions made about the person’s employment may be affected by the service’s inability to obtain a report.
- An employee who consents to the service applying for a medical report must complete the relevant form (retaining a copy) and also indicate on that form whether or not he or she wishes to see the report before it is released to the employer. Where necessary, the name and address of the GP or consultant must be provided.
- The form should be returned to the relevant manager, who will decide on the actions to be taken.
- When applying to the medical practitioner for a report, the manager will set out in as much detail as necessary, for example the main features of the individual’s work and explain the reasons why the application is being made.
- Arrangements for access (where applicable) must be made by the individual directly with the medical practitioner concerned. This should be done within 21 days of the employer’s application for the report being sent.
- If no arrangement is made within that time the practitioner may supply the report to the service without the further consent of the employee. Any request for access by the individual once the report has been received by the organisation should be made to the medical practitioner.
- Where an employee who has obtained access to a medical report believes that information contained in it is inaccurate or irrelevant to the employer, he or she may ask the doctor to make amendments accordingly.
- Once the employee has seen the report, the employee is expected to give consent to the report being released to the employer (and/or make representations on its contents to the practitioner) as soon as reasonably practicable.
- When the care service has received the report, further consultation will take place with the employee concerned before any decisions are made regarding the individual’s employment with the service.
- Where a GP has provided a fit note which states “may be fit for work taking account of the following advice” consideration will be given by discussion with the employee whether the suggested changes could be made to facilitate the employee’s return to work/provide a support plan as recommended in Guidance Prompt 12A of the CQC Guidance about Compliance: Essential Standards of Quality and Safety.
- Where an employee refuses, having seen the report, to give consent to it being released to the care service, the manager will interview the individual concerned. The manager will point out that the organisation would prefer to base its decision on up-to-date medical evidence but that, if such evidence is withheld, a decision will be made on the basis of such information as is available at the time.
- The same procedure as outlined in point 14 will be followed when an employee delays unacceptably in giving consent for the employer to see the report.
- Information acquired by the service on employees’ health is to be treated in the strictest confidence at all times.
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