This edition was issued on 4 August 2022
Welcome to the latest edition of the Personal Injury Commission News.
This edition focuses on in-person medical assessments and how all users and practitioners can work with us to increase the attendance rate. If we can significantly improve this, it will have a positive effect on our medical assessment list and our ability to offer in-person medical assessments for injured people in the timeliest way possible. I thank you in advance for your assistance and cooperation.
Also included in this edition is information about a current job vacancy at the Commission for a General Member in the Workers Compensation Division.
I will be in touch with another edition of Personal Injury Commission News soon
Judge Gerard Phillips
In-Person Medical Assessments
Personal Injury Commission News Edition No.33 had a lot to say about the adverse effect upon the Commission’s medical assessment list due to the pandemic, the bad flu season, floods and various strikes.
In the first six months of 2022 the Commission booked approximately 3,600 appointments in motor accidents alone. Of these bookings, approximately 1,800 were unable to proceed for various reasons, for example the claimant or the Medical Assessor had COVID or were a close contact, the claimant couldn’t travel, or they were scheduled during the suspension of in-person medical assessments during January and February 2022.
However, with respect to 177 of these scheduled examinations, the claimant simply did not attend, and no notice was given.
A non-attendance with no notice produces the following results:
- The appointment has been lost at a time where each and every in-person appointment is valuable.
- The appointment cannot be offered to another claimant who is waiting.
- It produces a non-attendance fee to be paid to the Medical Assessor at the cost of the scheme.
- It also means it will take far longer for the backlog to be dealt with.
- In high use specialties such as psychiatry, a non-attendance is a disaster. As a result of the pandemic, all psychiatrists are in great demand. You will have heard recent statements by icare where they are remarking upon an increase in claims involving psychiatric injury. At the present time, due to the pressure on the lists for our psychiatrists, we are making appointments well into 2023.
The purpose of this Personal Injury Commission News is to appeal to all users and practitioners to work with us to increase the attendance rate at in-person medical examinations. We are pursuing a number of strategies to increase attendance rates, because if we can significantly improve this, it will have a significant positive effect on our medical assessment list.
Currently Commission staff are scheduling a large number of medical assessments for September in our Medical Suites and in the Assessors’ private rooms. It is of vital importance that as many of these appointments which are booked proceed as possible.
The Commission’s staff will therefore adopt one of the following strategies to try and increase attendance rates:
- Follow up email to parties.
- Follow up phone call to parties.
- SMS reminders.
- System enhancement for auto-generated stakeholder reminder emails.
It is of great importance that we increase the percentage of claimants attending medical examinations.
In terms of the first six months of this year, the scheduled medical assessments that could not proceed are roughly equivalent to the Commission suspending medical examinations for a period of more than four months (assuming that approximately 400 per month take place on a usual average basis).
Whilst we cannot control things such as the pandemic, floods or train strikes, attendance at medical assessments is a matter that is within everyone’s capacity to affect. An improvement in this area will make a very real and positive effect upon the steps that we are taking to deal with the pandemic inspired backlog.
As has been advised in previous Personal Injury Commission News editions, the Commission’s new Medical Suites are now up and running. We are working closely with the Medical Assessors in order to increase their availability and we are constantly recruiting new Medical Assessors. But it is essential that we have the cooperation of claimants so that we can utilise this capacity.
Additionally, such a significant percentage of non-attendances, which require rescheduling, is a significant administrative burden on the Commission and it means that our capacity to arrange expedited assessments for other claimants is prejudiced.
The Commission is asking for everybody’s assistance and cooperation in ensuring that the percentage of attendances at medical examinations is much higher in the second half of 2022 than it was in the first. Encouraging your clients to avail themselves of a booster shot will also assist in this aim.
I would also draw practitioners’ attention to Procedural Direction PIC 6, paragraphs –. This Procedural Direction deals with the circumstances where a medical assessment cannot be attended for whatever reason and what the claimant must do in that circumstance. Given all of the various challenges confronting our community during the pandemic and in particular this year, we have been very understanding and flexible with respect to attendances at medical assessments. Clearly this has been a very difficult and challenging time for our community.
However, as we emerge from the strict lockdowns that we saw in 2020 and 2021, we simply must get our medical assessment operations back on track and our aim is to achieve attendance rates in excess of 75%. We would rather not have to action the provisions of PIC 6, and in particular paragraph  which enables a proceeding to be dismissed, but unless attendance rates increase, the Commission will have no alternative but to implement strategies that make attendance the more desirable option.
Job Vacancy: Sessional General Member
Applications are sought from suitably qualified and experienced persons for appointment as General Members (Sessional) in the Workers Compensation Division of the Personal Injury Commission. Sessional General Members may be based in Sydney or regional locations. Some travel may be required.
Please follow link to see full details: iWorkforNSW
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