Dear IME Psychiatrist, Think about the trough you’re supping from

IME-pig

The following is a kind of generic letter to an IME psychiatrist in which I take up many real  issues in reports written about me over the years, and challenge the IME about their role in this system.

Dear IME Psychiatrist,

By Survivor

Further to our pending assessment appointment, I wish to clarify and correct some of the information that has appeared in some of my previous IME reports. I have noted to my psychologist several times in the past that often within the context of these examinations, I give answers for the sake of providing an answer without being able to be clear as to the reality of the statements I make. I find the questioning process and the confusion I suffer in these stressful situations makes me feel compelled to give an answer even when I don’t have the clarity and access to my full memories to know the precise truth of what I am saying. This means that at best my answers provide only a small slice of information about the issue, and at worst my answer may actually be misleading. I have noted that this sometimes occurs when the IME uses a “rapid-fire” questioning technique that does not allow me to fully answer one question before presenting me with another.  I would ask you always to give me plenty of time to answer any question you have before moving on to another.

I would also like to take the opportunity to counter some of the erroneous opinions regarding my character as a person  and personal history “facts” presented by previous IME’s .

  1. I do indeed care about the rights of others. The IME who reported me as saying that, “I don’t care about any one else’s rights,” actually made that statement up. That same IME stood up over me and shouted at me when I was crying during the interview. That fact should tell you something about the nature of that particular IME.  His whole report (July 2003) was tainted with bias against me. My personal history as a social justice activist and volunteer in my community should let you know that the IME’s statement was false and intended to demonise me and personally humiliate me at a very deep level.
  2. No, I don’t believe I have a “huge sense of entitlement”.  I simply anticipated that Workcover existed to assist me to recover from workplace injury and to compensate me for any loss, and that workplace bullies would be called to account for their actions.
  3. Yes, I do feel “rage” and “resentment” about what happened to me at work.  The bullying from colleagues and employers alike were in direct contravention of workplace policies and procedures, my contract of employment and the workplace bargaining agreement. My rage and resentment were predictable reactions to the bullying, but these emotions were not driving my behaviours when I returned to work. Nor were they fueling my Major Depression, as I was returning to work part part-time in order to deal with the issues.
  4. Yes, I had a somewhat impoverished and dysfunctional childhood.  Is that something that should be used to punish me now and to argue that my childhood trauma was the cause of my injuries. I had forty years of studying and two marvelous careers in the interim.
  5. Yes, my father was a bully, an erratic unpredictable one, but he was also many other things. He was a person who tried his best for his many children,  and was often kind to us as well. As an adult, I now understand that his violent outbursts were the result of post traumatic stress disorder from his war service on the Kokoda Track, which became severely exacerbated in the 1960’s when he lost his beloved farm and his livelihood to a bank foreclosure. You can well imagine what such traumas would do to the mental health of a worker with a wife and nine children to support.
  6. No, my father didn’t work on a “corn boat”,  not that his employment forty years ago would have any impact on my current workplace injury. When coupled with information about our poverty as a family, the dysfunction caused by my father’s war service, and the sheer size of my family of origin (eleven members), I start to sound like I’m being tarred with the discriminatory brush that produces such terms of abuse as “trailer trash”. It is these subtle demonisations of the injured worker that I’m sure allow disreputable IME’s to victimise that injured worker even more.
  7. Yes, one of my brothers does have what appears to be a serious undiagnosed mental illness.  He descended into this condition following an extreme trauma which he suffered in the late 1990’s. So extreme was this trauma that it could have had the same outcome for any human being. I do not intend to supply more information than this in relation to my brother as I am aware that everything eventually ends up in a Workcover file, and this would be a breach of his right to privacy. He is not the Workcover recipient here – I am, and in truth I have seen very little of my brother in the past 20 years as he lives in another State.
  8. Yes, I was raped twice when I was eighteen, and it did have a traumatic effect on me.  However, I had two careers, loving relationships and worked successfully for many years before the first episode of workplace bullying diminished my mental health.  Even after that I studied, raised my two children, and eleven years later, found permanent work again. Both events of workplace bullying I’ve experienced (1987, 2002/3) have triggered those long forgotten traumatic memories. I would suggest that common characteristics of these traumas – the over-powering strength of a mob at work, the complete disregard of my personal autonomy and human rights, the demonisation of the victim – are very akin to being raped.
  9. Yes, I once had a partner who was violent with me.  I left him quite quickly, and though it was a shock to be a single parent, I am pleased with how I responded to his violence and managed the situation. That was thirty years ago, and I continued as a worker for another five years until the first experience of workplace bullying broke my mental health.
  10. Yes, like so many women of my own age,  I am menopausal.  I have noticed that many IME’s seem to diagnose this as the cause of my mental problems. They also make the same diagnoses for other female injured workers or a similar age who I’ve met. In the fact the paragraph used by one IME I saw, was exactly the same, word for word, as the paragraph he applied to another injured worker who showed me their assessment report. I don’t think menopause is why I had a breakdown. My periods were on a very regular 28 day cycle, and they ceased immediately when I had the breakdown from the bullying. No gentle tapering off, no hot flushes prior, no mood changes (I was fortunate to never suffer from PMT). I menstruated once more two and a half years later when I was finally under care and treatment from a psychiatrist and feeling a little better. Two weeks after this, I was bullied again by the Employer and my claims agent in tandem. I never menstruated again. Could I say the Workover frightened me bloodless? I do think it’s a long stretch for for any IME to say that it is menopause that is causing my problems, particularly since the only information they elicited from me in interview was the very bald statement that I was menopausal.
  11. IME’s have reported on my involvement in de facto relationships.  I found this question confusing as “de facto” is a legal term and meaningful relationships can occur for long periods without the parties ever living together. Consequently I gave quite a misleading answer. From the age of 20, I was in a total of 4 relationships that I would call meaningful, and these relationships lasted for a total of 10 years. Since my serious injury in 2003, I have not had a meaningful, couple relationship as this possibility has been precluded by the injury. Apart from that pertinent effect, I do not understand what my relationship status, or my fifty year old, deeply personal family history could possibly tell you about my workplace injury or my capacity to return to work.
  12. My study has been commented on by IME’s as me trying to establish and alternative career for myself.  It was, but more than that, it was also an attempt to give me a sense of future, a counter to the hopelessness and helplessness inspired by workplace bullying and the Workover.  I actually studied a total of seven semester length subjects from 2004 to 2008. I ceased study after this as my capacity was being severely affected by the post traumatic stress disorder. The course I had chosen relied heavily on “group work” and I was becoming less and less able to deal with being in groups. I had a number of “episodes” on campus whilst studying and completely lost faith in my ability to continue studying in this way. My inability to work in groups arises directly from the circumstances and nature of my workplace injury. At work I was subjected to a specific form of bullying known as “workplace mobbing”, and this has sensitised me to the point where my symptoms begin to manifest whenever I am in groups of more than 3 or 4 people. I have tried to counter this symptom over these many years by joining groups in the company of a friend. For example, from 2005 to 2010, at my own cost, I regularly attended a twice weekly Aquarobics group at the local pool and a weekly Tai Chi and Qui Gong classes. I could only do this because I had a good friend who was willing to participate in the groups with me, and enough financial resources to pay for the sessions. I also belong to a community singing group, again accompanied by a friend. I have been unable to attend this group for the last four weeks due to the increase in symptoms brought about by the approaching “psychiatric examination”. I am also no longer in a position to pay for my gym membership, or to maintain regular attendance in groups so this therapy is now denied to me.
  13. Yes, I do use marihuana.  I am not a continuous daily smoker. Lack of money, the desire to do things that are not compatible with being stoned (e.g. driving, visiting friends, looking after my granddaughter), all serve to mitigate my use. I find it useful in general for reducing the jumpiness and hypervigilance which I experience when my symptoms are stirred up, and for dream free sleep. I have had many long breaks from smoking throughout my life, some of several years duration when I was bearing and caring for my children. Most recently, for example, I did not smoke from April to July last year as I was homeless and travelling day by day in my car, and I did not want my driving to be affected. I am also not smoking it at the moment as I need my money for other more pressing necessities. I stop using pot easily, and apart from poor sleeping, and somewhat heightened hypervigilance, I do so  without any noticeable distress physical or mental. I do not believe this is an addiction, but,  like a glass or two of wine, it is a comfort seeking behaviour.
  14. I do smoke tobacco quite intensely during and following up any exacerbation of my workplace injury.  It’s unhealthy and expensive and I wish I didn’t.  I keep trying to give up. I ceased, after many many attempts, through my own efforts in early 2009. I remained tobacco free for the next two years, until I experienced a severe retriggering of the ptsd symptoms during my first camping experience after I became homeless. I have smoked heavily since that time. It is an addiction, and one that I have seriously struggled with whenever I am in a better state of mind.
  15. I’m not addicted to alcohol.  I realised in my 20’s that I’m allergic to spirits and avoid them like the plague. I do occasionally have a glass of wine with my meal. I probably get through about 12 bottles of wine a year, all of which are shared with friends.
  16. My claims manager doesn’t want to know about my desire to return to work.  Despite my many contacts with the insurers in regard to the issue of return to work, IME’s never ask me about my desire for retraining and my desire and need for paying work and the efforts I made to obtain these. FYI I have included two of the many letters that I wrote to CGU – the company that was then my case manager. My compensation claim was settled in October 2008, and I made many attempts over the next 18 months to get some retraining and return to work assistance, all to no avail. My attempts were met with silence at first, then insults in the form of very humiliating and frustrating communications from the insurer – as you will understand from the enclosed letters. Lack of work, with the daily personal feedback and the financial support it provides is contributing to my ongoing psychiatric injury.
  17. I do have a very serious addiction to poker machine gambling.  With regard to that, I am unable to access my bank statements at this point, but believe that I began gambling again sometime in 2010, possibly in September, but I am not sure as it occurred once again in conjunction with a dissociative episode. I had been in remission from this dreadful condition for over 5 years. I believe the gambling recurred in this way because I had reached the end of hope and had an exacerbation of the Major Depression as a result of my fruitless attempts to secure my future through retraining and return to work.
  18. I am not litigous.  I do not have any other current compensation claims. This one, which now only provides me with weekly counselling sessions, and my psychiatric medication is the only one. I must say that I consider the use of the term “compensation” in relation to Workcover claims to be an abuse of the word.

I understand that in the context of the examination, you will simply be  asking the questions that the insurance company provides you with. My question is why? What does any of this information, particularly the deeply personal information about family and relationships, have to do with helping me to recover and move on? There is no longer any legal question in relation to the source of my workplace injury. Or is it what I think is happening – the insurer is simply making use of IME’s such as yourself, to extract information that they can use in the event of a legal case, and to further incapacitate me with an upsurge of symptoms. Since the legal case has reached settlement long ago, this also doesn’t make sense, but perhaps it’s a case of the machine continues on its’ blundering course regardless of what is happening in reality, and with complete neglect of the impacts upon my personal health and well-being.

I note that I have not been assessed since the end of the legal case in 2008, and that this current assessment was organised only after I had contact with the insurer to again seek employment counselling and retraining. Apart from making this appointment, they have left me sinking behind the wall of silence in relation to that request. I note too, that you were not provided with any brief in relation to assessing me for retraining or return to work.   I further note that the reports supplied to you by the Workcover insurer were extremely selective, over three years old, and included no recent reports from my treating practitioners.   They did not even send you my Serious Injury Certificate and accompanying report.

I apologize for taking more of your time in regard to this matter, but feel that since you are supping from the Workcover trough, and inadvertently being used as a carrier of the cruelty of this system, then you deserve to know just how polluted the water is.   I thank you for allowing me to bring a friend into the examination with me. I also thank you for allowing me to supplement my dysfunctional memory by allowing me to record the assessment interview. Without a support person with me, without the sense of safety and protection that provides me with, I would normally experience months of surging ptsd and depression symptoms  following on such an assessment.   Indeed, instead of being in “fight” mode with the ptsd, as I currently am, I would be in “freeze” mode struggling with continuous suicidal ideation, as has happened in the past.

Yours sincerely,

 

An Injured Worker.

 

 



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22 Responses to “Dear IME Psychiatrist, Think about the trough you’re supping from”

  1. Sounds like an appropriate line of questioning if you were under interrogation for mass murder. But I’m assuming you had hurt your back, arm or something? Probably arm. With gambling with one arm bandits. What a pointless waste of taxpayers money. If I hadn’t have heard this level of rubbish questioning previously I’d think it was a joke. All these types interviews should be recorded. Copies given to both parties. All parties have the right to have a witness and advocate present. Not just a friend or family member but trained in Workcover law and ethics. With the power to stop a meeting if the questioning becomes in appropriate. If it proceeds along the lines of interrogation then a lawyer should be present. If they want to treat people like criminals then let Workcover pay for the injured workers criminal defense.

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  2. Dear IME, 1) Why did you deny my “support” person admission to assessment in 2/2012, when she came 4hours to attend??
    2) Could you explain why your report was ‘dismissed by my IMA(dept of Educ. NSW) & returned TWICE TO TWO DRS whom had no interactions with me, at all. Yet three with the IMA WHO WAS THWARTING MY RTW???
    3) Could you please explain how an IMA has the professional qualification to “over ride” your expert medical opinion and deny your expert advice of the IME of RTW?.
    4) could I also Recieve an explanation as to why all your, and subsequent collegues’ recommendations have been DISMISSED AS NON EXISTANT & the IMA is continuing the SYSTEMIC, corrupt and life threatening ASSAULT on my family??
    5) Why the IMA can PREVENT RTW & continue an RUTHLESS ASSIMAGINATION my persona without any forethought re consequences of CONTINUATION OF BULLYING??
    6) how a honest, dedicated mother & teacher & injured worker is supposed to cope when her entire life she has been Slattered & she hasn’t a clue why anyone would attack a little old lady who went back to work because IT WAS MY DUTY??
    7) why an IMA has ruined my life, my 13yr olds life and all JUSTICE & Legal guidelines have been IGNORED & BROKEN in HER WITCH HUNT TO DESTROY ME???

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    • Hello,

      Sorry to hear so many of you have had such terrible times with IMAs.

      I am a journalist who writes a lot about bullying, worker compensation and IR.

      I am looking at writing an investigative piece about the cosy relationships between parts of the medical industry and worker compensation schemes/insurance companies.

      Would any of you be interested in talking to me further about what you went through?

      Regards,

      Luke Williams.

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      • Hi Luke, being a fan of your outstanding articles, I would be more than happy to share some true and disturbing experiences with IMEs. Perhaps email me wit your contact details and I will get in touch.

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      • Hi Luke, Happy to talk to you too. Workcover victim can give you my contact details.

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      • You got it. And if you want a letter admitting to doctors reports that dont exist etc and (accidentally) misinforming/misleading an IME they requested a report (on same) from, you got it.

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      • Hi Luke just let me know what you need,I have Seven years of IME’s reports for you to gaze at,and detailed factual evidence how My sons Work cover agent’s have F—-d up in sooooo many ways it will make your stomach churn with uncontrollable ticks that would make a elephant head for the hills and jump of the cliff in terror.

        If the state,commonwealth and federal polatitions shy aware from the truth to satisfy the big companies like (Allianz),etc hungry ways it is only fare the truth be said and shown by a respected Journalist as yourself to bring some light on the on going situation that is and has been in such a disarray for so many years.My only question to you is ” what makes you think that the self centered Pollies,would even change their views and bring on a inquiry or even a mention in to effect “?. Sorry for the question but at question time in federal parliament all they seem to do is point the finger at each other and hope it is resolved by doing just that “a mear mention”FULL STOP.

        Please do so at your will contact me and I will talk to you I’ve got nothing but time and a few hundred thousand words or so that would warrant to write a series of books based on what I alone have gone through,and that’s just me not to mention the hundreds of others.I’ve been contributing to this wonderful blogging site for a few months now and the people whom run this site knows of my situation through my own contributions/stories which have factual facts with all relevant written letters to all that seem to be concerned but rarely say they give a S–T, but act like they do so.You can email me through this site or obtain my email address from the people that run this show.I do not mind them giving my email to you.

        Kind regards
        Al a Workcover victim.

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      • Hi Luke

        Have you contacted psychologist Evelyn Field – Australia’s expert of bullying. She has written 4 books and writes many articles for newspapers and is frequently contacted by the media for her expert opinion. She is up to date with the lastest international research and attends overseas conferences. She also recently made a 30 page submission to parliament’s workplace bullying inquiry – very comprehensive and includes a lot about the use of IMEs. It is available on the website along with all other submissions. Her website http://www.bullying.com.au

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        To Luke Williams October 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm
    • Hi Christine,
      next time they send you to an IME insist that you will only see one who allows you to bring a support person into the interview with you. I make sure that i only see the ones who will allow a witness to their process.
      It’s so crap isn’t it.
      Take care.

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  3. Excellent write-up Survivor, congrats!!!

    …and please help is warmly welcome our new official co-author “Survivor” to the workcovervictimsdiary warriors!

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  4. Luke is one journalist I would urge injured workers to trust. Please, if you are able, help Luke expose the hostile treatment too many injured workers endure.

    He has written some excellent articles on workplace bullying and is keen to highlight the injustices of workers compensation schemes.

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  5. IME psychiatrist that assesed me for CGU which took less than 15 minutes. In that time he looked through his bag for the schedule he was meant to report by. Plus he spent time explaining to me why he can not report in favour of who is paying for the report. This report was to determin whether I had a permanent impairment and what percentage of impairment.

    I contacted a solicitor to discuss the posibility of them taking my case on. I felt the solicitor I was with at the time was having staffing problems and that was delaying my case moving forward. Or maybe just paranoia with my mental health issues.

    I mentioned to the 2nd solicitor the incident with the IME the insurance company had me see. The 2nd solicitor told me that the IME I saw is used by them and they find him good with the reports for clients.

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    • A perfect example of how some IME’s will dance to the tune of whoever is paying them. How independant is that.

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  6. The real meaning of being Independent

    in·de·pend·ent
       [in-di-pen-duhnt] Show IPA

    adjective
    1.
    not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

    2.
    not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free: an independent businessman.

    3.
    not influenced by the thought or action of others: independent research.

    4.
    not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.

    5.
    not relying on another or others for aid or support.

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  7. The IME process is completely cynical and next to useless, especially in regard to psychiatric assessments. These psychiatrists have less than 45 minutes to assess the health of someone they’ve never seen before. Often they pay no heed at all to the reports of the injured worker’s treating doctors who may have known the worker, their normal personality and their health concerns for years. They approach both the injured worker and their health professionals as if they are cheats.

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  8. Hi All,

    I was relieved and also disgusted with what I was reading. The relief part was because I myself was sent last Monday to a Psychiatrist to give a report on my emotional state. I was absolutely appalled with the questioning that was put forward to myself. What has my childhood got to do with my accident and why would any drug that was tried in my youth have anthing to do with the fact that I was hit up the arse by another car!!!

    All this has done now is brought back issues from the past that I have dealt with a very long time ago. Just because I was brought up in a very dysfuctional family does not mean that I cannot live a fulfilling life!!

    I have a very happy marriage and have been with my husband for 27 years and have two beautiful children that has never caused me any drama. On my professional front, I have had an awesome career and my husband and I have run a successful business for 21 years that has placed us in a comfortable position. We now have moved on from there and have now hatched out our own personal careers.

    I have always been a very positive and happy person and never felt the urge to winge about anything but now with the treatment that I have had from workcover. It has sent me on an emotional downwards spiral which I can see of no way out. I really dont want to be told, how to fix it. I just want my injuries fixed and my life back to how it was. And workcover are making it worse.

    Can someone please explain to me how on earth they are getting away with this!!!!

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  9. Dear Survivor,
    I applaud you for your honesty. Your points 0-7 are identical to mine. Congratulations for putting pen to paper so eloquently.
    Best wishes,
    Lou (Bullying Survivor)… to be continued 🙂

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  10. Ah yes the IME and work cover,Let me tell you what the work cover agent is capable of doing even manipulating the IME to any degree to get the desired result,only beneficial to the deep pockets of the so called insurer and the system that fails to protect the employee .In a recent IME appointment that I was told to attend I found myself beside myself only after what I saw in a surveillance report and footage which put me in a judgmental and non genuine view of the IME as stated back in a report to my work cover agent (ALLIANZ).

    Over a two and a half year period Allianz had me followed,and video taped, near my house in a shopping centre where on one occasion my condition CRD-HP left side was seen to be normal to some extent and deemed questionable of my diagnosis from some of the leading medical practitioners in Australia.The reports/videos were of me not showing the full extent of my injury that I was suffering from and had been with held from the IME only till 7 months ago with a view that could not be explained simply because the footage of my condition is still under medical review and has no clear understanding in medical research all over the world. The condition is related to Stress and is of non organic matter,Conversion Reaction Disorder Left Side Hemi Paralysis partly and not whole % and psychological condition that is apart of the above mentioned.The footage was of me walking,getting out of a car and was not in flowing video format ,but rather broken up and put together footage. The report stated that I seemed to be in balance at (TIMES) fully and partial??!!!, with the notion that gave my forensically examined condition a view of malingering.Now This was the opinion of the Work Cover agent pointing out Her findings to the IME whom stated in the report”I find the surveillance report to be some what judgmental and do question the gugineuinous of my condition”.but still recommend me to be mentally incapable and partly physically incapable of returning to work at any stage and still finds me in the same stable condition from my last visit to him the (IME) whom I last saw three years ago.This was of course six months before the video surveillance was taken.

    I then was asked to go for return to work assessment by my work cover agent from ALLIANZ because of a report that was given by another IME four years prior to to the Video footage was taken and given to the recent IME on the belief that the four year report and recent video footage was sufficient enough for me to be well enough to be assessed.Now the recent IME report still stated incapacity and warranted a review in twelve months time but would not make any difference even if I walked better that particular day.This shows how Work cover agents try to discredit you at any given chance and will try to keep any other footage or surveillance evidence short and sweet/edited to make believe that it’s a scam and a attempt to have a free holiday as they say for a period thats punishable by law.What these dogs,in particular my case manager failed to realize is that she is my agent not my Doctor,expert,nor my life manager.A Narcissist yes but a medical qualified practitioner I don’t think so.

    I made it quit clear that she failed me in helping me,I put it to her she kept vital medical reports from my treating doctor disclosing information from proper treatment,I questioned her why did you not send the report to my doctor?,instead sending him Questionnaire of he’s view of my prognosis,even though he’s not a qualified Psychiatrist?,.She could not answer my question or reply to my Doctors question why the report was disclosed from him seeing it before making a decision that he is not qualified to do?,He only was under the impression that I’m not employable under my pre injury condition work job description/qualifications and would recommend me to see what other avenues where available for any future employment even with a physical and mental condition.

    Last but not least I wrote after 4 weeks to all relevant health care advocates and told them of what was taking place and they investigated what had occurred and concurred that I was bullied and harassed on top of what happened to me in my work place and was intentional and saw further cause to reprimand my work cover agent and her employer ALLIANZ.
    I also requested that I have no further verbal contact from her and all written communication to be directly sent to my lawyer.To this day I don’t talk directly to any one from work cover and one of my family members talk to my case manager when they phone to ask “(HOW I AM)” Yeh right as they give a shit.So for all of you out their that are being further bullied by your work cover agent take note and know your RIGHTS as you are human not a dog like they are,Always remember your number 1 and you were put into the situation that you are in because of your employer.Work covers job is to see that that the share holders get what they want and to seek profits what ever it takes,and they will do what ever it takes to do so.DONT FORGET THEY ARE TRAINED TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MISERABLE AT ANY GIVEN CHANCE.

    Please note this story was written on behalf of my son who lives he’s life in total disarray because of he’s employer and has no capacity to even think alone or write.

    He’s loving Mother
    Rosie.

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    • What happens with so many of these IME’s, the hired gun type, is that we are damaged more by the process. It’s abuse, and like all abuse can only begin to be countered when the victims lose their shame enough to tell the truth.
      Rosie, good on you for standing up for your son, I’m sure your support makes his life that much better than it would be without you.
      Helene, hang in there, get organised to protect yourself from this abuse, because it will continue all the time you are in the Workover.

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