Is a company doctor bound by confidentiality?

Yes. Occupational health (OH) doctors and nurses are bound by a duty of confidentiality towards their patients, enshrined in the ethics of their professions:

  • The professional body for OH specialists is the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Its Guide to Standards in Occupational Medicine requires members to "keep all individual medical information confidential, releasing such information only with the individual's informed consent, or when required by law or overriding public interest."
  • Specialists, such as OH psychologists and physiotherapists, are required to belong to their national professional association. These bodies regulate the behaviour of their members through professional and ethical standards. These standards include client consent, confidentiality, anti-discriminatory practice and personal conduct.

In practice, this means, for example, that a company doctor can advise the employer what changes to working patterns or practices would best meet your needs but must not reveal your medical condition, or any information relating to that condition without your express consent.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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