The Dublin premises of an occupational healthcare company contracted by the Department of Education to assess and certify physical disability cannot be accessed by individuals with a physical disability, it has emerged.

Medmark Occupational Healthcare Limited provides the department with specialised advice in relation to the medical fitness to work of its employees, which include teachers and special needs assistants.

Where employees claim to be unable to work for reasons of physical disability, this must be assessed and certified by Medmark before long absences or retirement on grounds of illness or disability can be approved.

However, it has emerged that Medmark’s premises on Baggot Street in Dublin has no disabled access and individuals with mobility issues cannot attend appointments for assessments there.

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Instead, the company has "an arrangement" with a neighbouring premises, where such assessments can be facilitated, Education Minister Norma Foley told People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy in response to a parliamentary question.

"Medmark have informed the department that the premises specified is a ‘listed building’ which is not suitable to be modified to allow for wheelchair access," said the Fianna Fáil TD.

"Medmark therefore have an arrangement in place with a neighbouring building to readily facilitate assessments to those with mobility issues on request."

She said an occupational health strategy was in place at the department as a supportive resource for staff and leaders in schools with the aim of promoting the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace.

Medmark is contracted by the department to provide this strategy, Ms Foley said, and carries out pre-employment health assessments, sickness absence referrals, assessments of medical fitness for work, and ill-health retirement assessments.

"The [occupational healthcare strategy] provider, contracted by the department, is the sole recognised provider of independent medical advice for employees and employers. The current OHS provider is Medmark Occupational Healthcare Ltd," she confirmed.

The company’s premises on Baggot Street is a three-storey house over a basement that was built around 1825. It has neoclassical door cases and intact setting features, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Planning permission is required for any work on a listed building that could materially affect its character, rendering many alterations legally impossible.

Medmark has been contacted for comment.

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