Retirement on the grounds of permanent medical disability is a major decision for both the employee and the employer. The scheme operates to aid employees who are permanently incapable of work due to their health. The cost of IHR to the employee can be substantial with the loss of income. Therefore, all applications are thoroughly assessed to ensure that fair and robust medical advice is given.

Nowadays, it is usually possible to offer workplace accommodation to enable the employee to continue at work, particularly sedentary office employment. With advancements in medical technology, thankfully it is relatively rare that an employee is permanently medically incapable of work. The medical criteria for IHR are detailed in Circular 22/2007. An employee can apply for IHR by contacting their HR section. HR then decides on the employee’s eligibility to apply for IHR. If appropriate, HR refers the case to the CSOHD, with background workplace information on how the employee has been getting on at work.

On receipt of the referral, the employee is asked to submit a medical report and a completed IHR (1) form from their current treating doctor. An appointment is then arranged for a medical assessment at the CSOHD. All applications are reviewed by an Occupational Health Physician who is on the Medical Council’s Specialist Register in Occupational Medicine. The medical opinion on permanent medical disability lies with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and not with the employees treating GP or hospital doctor . Referral to an outside medical specialist may occasionally be required to clarify the diagnosis and see if any additional treatment options should be tried.

If the CMO does not advise that the applicant is permanently medically disabled, they are free to appeal this medical advice within 30 days, as outlined in Circular 22/2007. If this appeal is not successful, then the IHR process is completed. The CMO’s role in relation to IHR is advisory only. The final decision lies with the employing department..