Derbyshire Police Federation

Fed rep thanks Force for support following health scare

7 April 2021

When Derbyshire Police Federation workplace representative Paul Russell suffered a health scare back in January, he feared he would be forced to take time off sick.

As a rep, he says he recognises that taking a long time off sick can lead to members feeling isolated and unsupported, becoming deskilled and feeling guilty for letting down colleagues and burdening them with extra work. 

Luckily, thanks to the support Paul has received from his inspector and the Force, he’s been able to avoid this and instead adapt his role to suit his needs. 

He says the Force not giving up on him has meant that he has been able to continue the work he loves and he will be forever grateful for that.

In turn, he hopes that by sharing his story, he can encourage his colleagues to be honest and open with their managers, because signing off sick might not always be the only, and easiest, option.

It was coming up to the end of January, when 50-year-old Paul felt a pain in his chest.

“It was like being hit across the chest with a baseball bat,” Paul explains. 

After calling for an ambulance, he was rushed to hospital, where he was later diagnosed with angina.  Paul, who now has to undergo further tests, says his grandfather had died of heart disease at a similar age.

Having been told by his doctor to take precautions, Paul was concerned that he might have to take time off work. He has been with the Force for 28 years and admits work is a huge part of his life, adding: “I love my role.”

Paul, who has been a Fed rep for the past four years, says: “I have seen first-hand how hard it can be for members to return to work when they’ve been off sick for an extended period of sickness. Simply stepping back through the door of the police station can, mentally, be a big issue for some.

“You can sometimes lose your way and when it’s time to go back to work, it’s like you’re starting all over again. I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

Fortunately, Paul contacted his inspector early and the pair talked through potential options. Together, they came up with a plan, which would work for both the Force and Paul.

“I’d been working four on, four off shifts and when you factor in a long commute and regularly finishing late those were long days,” said Paul, adding, “So instead of reducing my hours, we just changed them.”

Paul, who is a member of the Rural Crime Team, is now providing support to his colleagues and the team. He said: “I never wanted to add to their pressures or let down victims or the community I serve.

“I’m not at all surprised that my inspector was so understanding,” he says, “In my experience the majority of managers will be flexible if their staff are honest with them. It’s in the interest of the organisation to keep staff in work.

“Even if people have health issues, they can still add value to a team but just in a different way.”

Paul says, as a Fed rep, he fears some staff worry about taking time off sick, due to concerns about their finances or job security.

“The thing is, if people have the right discussions, they might be able to continue working while looking after their health. If they leave it and don’t have these conversations, then it could lead to further issues down the line.”

Paul hoped that hearing stories like his, gives colleagues the confidence and reassurance to speak up and get the support they need.

He adds: “It’s all about open and honest conversations. I am extremely grateful to my inspector, my team and the Force for their support over the past few months.”

 

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