BUPA is a strange organisation. Well the BUPA I get to meet is. My company pays what is quite possibly a considerable sum of money for them to make recommendations for them to ignore. Somewhere a box has been ticked to prove that things have been done right and absolutely nothing has altered. What makes me arrive at this conclusion is that once again I went to an Occupational Health medical in deepest Solihull where I was seen by a doctor, a humourless miserable doctor, deeply miserable and unfulfilled in her role and undoubtedly jilted at the aisle forty years ago. To this day she wears the bridal dress as a reminder of how cruel and grey life is.
Anyway I digress, easy to do as I sat in silence for five minutes whilst she squinted at her screen, glasses would make it all too easy. She finally broke the silence.
“You have seen me before”
I was unsure if this was a question or a statement made in the style of a Bond villain. I looked around for a cat: no cat, they provide comfort on the long lonely evenings.
“Yes” very non committal and perfect for this situation. I could play her at this game.
“You broke your elbow”
Amazing powers of deduction, perhaps she was a ghoul with supernatural powers. I was no match after all.
“Yes”, my voice faltering slightly, perhaps she had eaten the cat having run out of babies.
“You had depression and anxiety issues”
“You can talk” I thought.
“Yes” I replied.
I then realised she wasn’t a seer, she was merely reading out my report. I relaxed and crossed my legs. The look I got informed me to be less familiar. I uncrossed them quickly.
The silence descended again as she returned to the screen for a minute or two.
“So how is the arm now?”
“Not bad, it will need another operation” I would have continued but the look cut me short.
“How is the depression?”
“Better, I am feeling less anxious”, present situation excepted.
“Has your medication changed?”
This was clearly not the answer she wanted. Had she been wearing the glasses she needed, she would have looked over them at me.
“I have sciatica”
“Is it affecting your work?”
I looked for an indication of any sympathy or feigned sadness at my latest set back. None was forthcoming.
A further period of silence fell upon us, I felt cold but my palms were sweaty. Had I made the fatal error that would see me thrown out of the job and into a cardboard box on Gough Street?
She checked the medication against the big black book of spells and closed it carefully, setting it down with a reverence normally reserved for The Prince by Machiavelli, her favourite bed time read.
“Your elbow is getting better but you will need a further operation, your depression is lifting and you have sciatica which does not affect your work.”
Had I not already told her this minute’s before, this would have been amazing, but I had and it wasn’t.
“You are fit for work and I need not see you again”
I felt like the executioner’s axe head had fallen off mid swing. I grabbed my hat and fled from the building expecting a hoard of Brigands to follow me. I didn’t stop limping quickly until I got to the safety of my Vauxhall Jalopy DTI, which, sensing my desperation deemed to burst into life first turn of the key.
So in effect I went to listen to my statement of health read back to me, this will now be sent to an employer who has paid handsomely to put a tick in a box and a piece of paper in the bin and the whole thing has been a waste of time and money. I received no help from either my employer or BUPA as a result of the 6 medicals, no expertise was displayed or advise given. I believe that BUPA occupational health is nothing more than a scare tactic used to frighten people back to work from their fake illnesses and when the P45 is handed out they can demonstrate they did everything in their remit to be fair and supportive. When someone with genuine injuries or illness goes into this system the whole process becomes a sham. I hate to think how much money was wasted and how it could have been put to good use contributing to decent care, physiotherapy and counselling.