Medical Practitioners Guide To Workcover NSW sloganeered by ability not disability – back to work approach!


Omigod, our co-author “Trinny” stumbled upon and kindly shared the Medical Practitioners Guide to Workcover NSW, “sloganeered” by “ABILITY NOT DISABILITY – A BACK TO WORK APPROACH”. Read between the lines, guys and imagine you are a GP and in receipt of this “guide”… would you not feel, uhhh, pressured to return even the most seriously injured of your patients to work?

Medical Practitioners Guide To Workcover NSW sloganeered by ability not disability – back to work approach!

In the “Guide”‘s INTRODUCTION alone it says

UNDERSTANDING THE WORKERS COMPENSATION SYSTEM (an inappropriate title to begin with)

This education package has been produced by WorkCover NSW to provide medical practitioners, who are treating injured workers, with information about the injury management system in NSW.

WorkCover’s injury management system is designed to provide a framework which enables an early, safe and durable return of injured workers to the workplace…

callout-abilityWhen a patient presents to you with a work related injury, as with any other patient, you are responsible for their management with the aim of promoting recovery.

WorkCover is committed to the provision of evidence based treatment that supports a return to work outcome.

Nominated treatingdoctors (NTDs) can at times experience resistance to this approach from the injured worker or feel restrained by their relationship with the worker, their family or other expectations.

It is important that you act on your professional judgement regardless of what you think the injured worker, employer or insurer would like you to say or do.

Read the rest of the (in our injured opinion) heavily biased guide…

…. It appears clearly phrased in such a way that it implies that the GP should NOT listen to the injured worker, and that the GP MUST return the injured sod to work early, prematurely, at any cost, or else.

Is this the reason why many nominated treating doctors find it hard to stand up for their injured patients? Sign off on the most ridiculous and dangerous return to work plans as to avoid further constant harassment and pressure? Feel helpless? Tell injured workers they’re better off getting off the workcover system so they can HEAL?

Medical Practitioners Guide To Workcover NSW

Direct link (PDF) >>



16 Responses to “Medical Practitioners Guide To Workcover NSW sloganeered by ability not disability – back to work approach!”

  1. While the above Guide is the old one, what we wanted to covey is the wording of the “guide” in terms of “returning to work” and the pressure the GPs are under.
    Our co-author Trinny stumbled on a pretty hilariously painful write up summing up the issue much better:

    WorkCover’s certificate of capacity replaces the old medical certificate
    Wed, 13/03/2013
    Spokesperson: WorkCover NSW

    Changes to the NSW workers compensation system have been introduced to assist early, safe and durable return to work. The new WorkCover NSW certificate of capacity replaces the old medical certificate and encourages doctors to focus on the patient’s capacity for work or what they can do rather than what they can’t. The old medical certificate will no longer be accepted after 31 March 2013.

    WorkCover’s certificate of capacity replaces the old medical certificate

    As you’re probably aware, changes to the NSW workers compensation scheme have been introduced to assist early, safe and durable return to work for injured workers.

    The reforms, passed by the NSW Parliament in June, focus on helping injured workers return to work and maximising work capacity.

    Evidence shows that staying at work or promptly returning to work improves recovery times and leads to a better health outcome for injured workers.

    This is why the reforms have shifted the focus away from incapacity and towards assessing and establishing capacity for work. The certificate of capacity focuses on what a patient can do rather than what they can’t do. Insurers will take doctors’ recommendations into account when assessing work capacity.

    The new certificate of capacity was introduced 1 October 2012 and is to be used for all claims. A six month grace period was provided to ensure doctors were aware and prepared for the changes. Insurers will only accept the old medical certificate until 31 March 2013.

    You can support your patient’s recovery by:

    setting expectations early about realistic return to work goals including discussing with your patient the health benefits of work;
    completing treatment plans with targets aimed at remaining at work during recovery or returning to work as early and safely as possible;
    shifting the focus to what the worker can do rather than what they can’t do;
    considering the worker’s capacity for all activities of daily living when completing the WorkCover certificate of capacity;
    communicating with insurers and other health care professionals in the worker’s rehabilitation team to ensure there are optimal insurance arrangements in place;
    completing the new WorkCover certificate of capacity rather than the medical certificate.

    WorkCover and software providers have worked together to incorporate the new certificate of capacity into medical practice software. If doctors or practices are not set up with the software, they are able to download the pdf of the certificate from the WorkCover website, or contact WorkCover to order hard copy pads.

    More information and the new certificate of capacity are available on the WorkCover website.


    Call 1800 661 111



  2. I admit I haven’t read this document, but it seems to me that we are all getting focused on the symptoms of the problem, not the problem.

    WorkCover can write thousand of policies, brochures, pamphlets, letter etc nothing changes.

    IN THEORY, focusing on Ability and NOT Disability is a good thing.

    It is how this, and other philosophically genuine and good intentions, are deliberately misused and applied by the insurers, case managers, rehab providers, IMEs etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, the current legislation is a piece of shit! It’s the bastard insurers continuing to look for loop holes is the problem. This is how the 2012 NSW changes were conceived and, via their lobby firm, influencing a seemingly corrupt Minister in the form of Greg Pearce.

  3. Their first duty of care is to their patient and if they don’t abide by that then they are not doing their job properly and should be reported to the AMA. I don’t know what other associations there are that you could report them to.

  4. This is old!!! It has the old medical cert form attached. The new one is 4 pages long…omg!!!

    • If this is the “old”version, what does the “new” post reform look like? Anyone seen it? I doubt that the wording has changed much (just the new WC certificate attached).

      workcovervictim3 September 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm
      • @workcovervictim3..the big difference is money!

        Benefits for injured workers.

        Weekly benefits 6 months full pay then stat rate. Currently $849 per fortnight.

        The stat rate has been abolished under the new rules and its 80% of your previous wage. I wish! I’m on the stat rate until a work capacity assessment decision. And then once assessment decision I could be chopped off, if not i’ll receive nearly twice as much per fortnight and workcover has informed me there will be no back pay for us. And they the insurance companies have “get this” 18 months or more to assess us some 40 thousand I was told by the w.c assistance line.

        So in essence we are losing about $1000 per fortnight!

        • @workcovervictim3,

          I have pain-brain ATM…

          Sorry, I haven’t seen the new pamphlet and I was referring to you about the difference’s that I noticed and it wasn’t just the med cert! If I look closer tomorrow there might be some more things that I might pick up.

          Pain and no sleep is doing my head in. 2 hrs sleep a night just isn’t enough sleep for one to function.

          • After having a quick look at worksafe vic it seems the new (old now rules etc, passed at 2am 22nd June 2012 nsw parliament) is now in line with the benefits paid to injured workers in vic! Pls tell me if I’m wrong? I’ve still got memory and concentration problems from the opiates etc I need to swallow because of extreme pain!!!

            However, until an assessment/decision is made the insurance companies are getting away with paying the stat rate in nsw “above” which is a little bit more than the disability pension until the work capacity decision is made.

            It seems when reading this above guide that w.c own the GP too!!!! It’s all about “get back to work regardless, how serious your injury is.”

            I was shocked and horrified that after working 2 years with a back injury and waiting nearly 8 months for the approval for the back op just 2 weeks after that op my case manger rang me and said because of the 75% cut to my pay to the stat rate that I should go to my gp and tell him that I could work 2 hrs a day…HELLO, I just had major surgery! I wasn’t told I could go to a private rehab for extensive physio/hydro and I wasn’t even able to look after myself let alone feed myself and I had to reluctantly and thankfully stay with my sister for 2 months before I could go home and then I was still struggling to look after myself!!!

            WORK 2HRS A Day THEY SAID!! OMG!!! No compassion what so ever!!! I told my GP when I eventually was able to be driven to see him and he laughed. The amount of paperwork a GP receives from the insurance co, who I’d better not mention is crazy!

  5. Reading this guide, who on god’s green earth talks like that? Its all written in consultant jingo with catchwords, catchphrases and overly complicated terms. Usual tripe that has no doubt cost $1M to write by some consultant HR firm. Who’s really milking the money from the system then ?!?!

  6. I would like to add that these are ‘guidelines’ and not enforceable. Doctors should remind agents that their moral obligation is to their patient.

  7. Whatever happened to the Hypocratic Oath????? Gently remind reluctant doctors that medical negligence is a tort and patients suing doctors is becoming more common in Australia. Whilst I have some compassion for doctors stuck in the middle of this, their main priority is to their patient NOT Workcover.

    • Hey Bunny, you’ll love this one.

      I expressed that same thing (a Doctor’s duty is to their patient – I MAY have said client) to a a Rehab Provider.

      This clown, a psychologist, replied “That’s right. The client is the insurance company, they are paying the bills, and the doctor must do what’s right by the client (insurance company)”

      (tongue in cheek) I cannot understand why we have so much trouble getting the support we need in rehabilitation?????????

      I now officially hate all Rehab Providers and every IME (insurer’s side).

    • The IMEs changed the Hippocratic Oath to the “Hyppocritic Oath”.

      My what a difference a couple of letters can make! 🙂

      • oops I made a spelling mistake, more like a Freudian slip, thanks FU_CGU, love your story too.

        • Please bring back the ‘edit’ function and tell that Rehab provider that they are AGENTS of your employer and as such can be sued by the employer after you sue the employer for having such bullying unprofessional agents.

          • I was thinking exactly the same – this commenting system sucks – preferred the old one with edit, delete, attach, embellish functions… after all we’re all injured here with poor concentration capacity. I will see if we can reinstall it this evening.