It has been made apparent to us recently that there are several unions providing questionable medical advice and in some instances, information that is plain wrong. At a time where the country is facing crisis, and levels of anxiety are so high, this is hugely unhelpful and only compounds the issues that we all are facing already.
Much of the spurious advice that we have been made aware of relates to returning to the workplace, the risks and how individual health concerns are affected by this.
As an occupational health company, we employ a team of highly qualified and specialist clinicians who are trained to give advice on this. Part of their role is to continuously stay up to date with the latest guidance from the relevant sources, including the government, the World Health Organisation and the NHS, in addition to their clinical governing bodies.
It is very difficult for those who have received conflicting advice from someone with no medical training, and is understandably a source of great confusion and concern for our clients. Therefore, we are issuing a clear message regarding unions and the provision of medical advice.
To be clear, there is no insinuation here that union membership is bad, or that you shouldn’t ask for advice. We just urge that advice should only be given by those qualified to do so.
Message to unions
If you are not a medical professional with specific occupational health training, please refrain from attempting to provide medical advice. Suggest that the individual, or the individual’s employer, contact their occupational health provider for further advice and assessment.
Message to union members
If you are seeking medical advice, speak with your organisation’s occupational health provider, or ask them to do this for you.
If your union provides you with any medical advice at all, you should request the following:
- What clinical training does the advisor have? They should be a nurse or a doctor, and as such should be able to provide you with an NMC or GMC number.
- What occupational health training does the advisor have? In addition to being medically trained, the advisor should also have an occupational health qualification such as a SCPHN(OH) or MFOM.
If you don’t receive a satisfactory response to these queries, make your feelings known and consider the validity of the ‘advice’ you have received.