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Fit to work?

Posted by


Im a health care assistant at my local hospitalwher ive worked on the same ward for nearly 20 years. I had 3, now 2 meningingomas as a result of leukaemia treatment.

A few months ago i started to have focal seizures, unfortunately i reacted badly to the topiramate,  and was consiquently disaplined for the resulting side effects.

My drug has been changed but the dose not yet regulated. I am scarred to take the increased dose as i am assured i will be disaplined for a second time

This is causing me an unbelievable amount of stress added to my diagnosis and pending treatment.

I used to work full time..3 12hr shifts a week. I reduced them to 1 12hr shift plus 1 6.5 hr shift a week 7 years ago due to child care, but now find i am struggling with this. 

I feel coming in 3 days a week woud be too much, even for short days. The remaining tumours cause morning headaches.

I stuggle finacially as it is (not least as i travel a 2 hr jouney each month to my hospital. 2 short shifts would be manageable..but not finacially.

I have been turned down for pip.

I would choose to continue to work..after over 40years of fighting cancer it feels as if im defeted if i retire on medical grounds..though realistically im unsure if im fit to work.

Would you be able to give me my financial options? (I am 47),

would i be entitled to any benefits?

With thanks 

Su - Macmillan
Posted by

Hello ,

Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us about your ongoing work situation and how this is causing you to feel stressed out.

The time off you have recently had, sounds like it was related to a change in your medication related to your cancer. As you have been affected by cancer you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This protection is lifelong and not connection to whether or not your cancer is currently active. This means your employer should not discriminate against you because of your cancer.

Under the Equality legislation there is no automatic right for an employer to disregard any disability related absence as part of a sickness management process.

Some employers include in their sickness and absence policy that they will exclude any disability (cancer) related absence from sickness management triggers. This means that if an employee required time off for cancer treatment, these occasions would be excluded from hitting sickness management triggers. This is to ensure that people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 are not at a disadvantage in the workplace. It may be worth checking your organisations sickness management policy. If it does not state any disability or cancer related absence will be excluded, you could ask if they could accommodate this for you to ensure you are not being treated less favourably.

Although it is not a reasonable adjustment for an employer to give higher ‘trigger points’ to a disabled employee when they are off sick compared to a non-disabled employee. An employer does still have to proceed carefully when looking at capability proceedings in the case of a disabled employee. This is because a disabled employee should not be treated less favourably.

You have asked for advice around your financial options therefore it may be beneficial for you to speak to the Money side of the Money and Work team, who will be able to look into what financial help you may be entitled to. The team is available on 0808 808 0000, Monday to Friday 8am till 8pm (by selecting option 1, followed by options 2 followed by option 2).

If you would like guidance around retirement on medical grounds, we have a team of experts who can provide advice and guidance relating to financial matters, including pension and retirement options. They are part of the Money and Work team and are available on 0808 808 0000, Monday to Friday 8am till 6pm (by selecting option 1, followed by options 2 followed by option 1).

I hope you find this information helpful to your situation if you need further support please do not hesitate to contact us back.


Work Support Advisor


Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.

Posted by

Thanks Su, my gp has signed me off work today for 3 weeks to see if the stress at work is related to the seizurs. I rang my h.r and pensions  today, neither were able to help. I will ring the number you have given tomorrow 

Thanks Midnightfish