The NSW government’s current workers compensation scheme and insurance companies denying medical treatment put workers at a “double disadvantage”, says an independent review (undertaken by the WIRO). That the O’Farrell workcover NSW amendments have colossally failed is, by now, well known by all injured workers.
However it is promising to see a blunt report by the WIRO on the failed scheme, heavily biased towards insurers (and employers). We can only hope that this be the necessary catalyst for a review of the draconian and corrupt workcover NSW scheme!
Injured workers in NSW denied medical treatment & entitlements
Injured workers denied treatment, entitlements, WorkCover report says
Nicole Hasham – The Sydney Morning Herald
State Politics reporter
5 March 2014
Insurance companies are denying injured employees vital medical treatment and the O’Farrell government’s contentious workers compensation scheme puts workers at a “double disadvantage”, an independent watchdog says.
A report by the WorkCover Independent Review Office (WIRO) cited the case of a factory worker whose leg was crushed by machinery and partially amputated. An insurer initially denied him a prosthetic limb.
The office, led by Kim Garling, was set up in late 2012 to help workers dispute decisions about their entitlements under the reformed workers compensation regime.
As part of the changes, an insurer, rather than a worker’s doctor, determined their capacity to work after an injury.
But in its first annual report to Parliament, the office said WorkCover had repeatedly ignored requests that insurers be required to tell injured workers about the advice service and their appeal rights.
It said the new system created “a gap … which disadvantages workers from obtaining assistance and an explanation of their rights and entitlements”.
Under the law, both insurers and workers were restricted from getting legal advice, which supposedly ensured both parties were on an equal footing.
But the government’s intention had “failed”, the report said, and insurers were using lawyers on work capacity decisions. This “left the injured worker at a double disadvantage” and those with psychological injuries were worst affected.
The report noted insurers commonly refused to “approve treatment recommended by the worker’s doctor“. In the case of the man who sought a prosthetic, the office contacted the insurer, which eventually accepted liability and provided it.
Finance and Services Minister Andrew Constance welcomed the report and the “blunt account of WorkCover’s performance”.
He said the office was established to be a “strong watchdog … I am glad to see that the system is working”.
Mr Constance said WorkCover would address the issues raised and some had already been resolved.
But Unions NSW deputy assistant secretary Emma Maiden said the report showed the system was “skewed against” workers, and “the only people that are really benefiting from these changes are insurers and employers”.
A WorkCover spokeswoman said it was working with the office “to promote its services”, including putting fact sheets on its website.
Referrals to the office were also provided by its customer service centre and other information sent to injured workers, she said.
[Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/injured-workers-denied-treatment-entitlements-workcover-report-says-20140304-343g0.html] Relevant links inserted.
Read the WIRO’s first Annual Report for the Period 1 October 2012- 30 June 2013 , which has now been tabled in Parliament.
Corruption fallout hits O’Farrell
Corruption fallout hits O’FarrellSean Nicholls
Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor 1 March 2014
Three years after Barry O’Farrell was swept to power after an historic rejection of the long-serving Labor government, the latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll shows Labor is leading the Coalition 51 per cent to 49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. The turnaround represents a 15 per cent swing since the March 2011 election and is the first time Labor has led the Coalition since 2008.
Labor’s primary vote, which crashed to an historic low of 25.6 per cent in 2011, has recovered to 35 per cent – an improvement of 12 points since the last Nielsen poll in March 2013.
The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 40 per cent from 51.2 per cent at the last election – down 12 points since last year’s poll.
If the 15 per cent swing was applied uniformly across the state it would see the Coalition lose up to 25 seats – wiping out gains it made in western Sydney, the central coast and the Hunter three years ago.
The poll of 1000 voters was conducted between February 22-26, shortly after the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced an inquiry involving former resources minister Chris Hartcher and two other government MPs, Chris Spence and Darren Webber.
It also coincides with ructions between the Liberals and Nationals over the push by Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to take over the seat of Goulburn from Community Services Minister Pru Goward.
Pollster John Stirton said while it was not possible to put a poll movement down to one thing, the major point of difference for the Coalition has been that the previous Labor government was tainted by corruption scandals.
”This is the first poll taken since Chris Hartcher resigned from cabinet in December and the announcement of the ICAC inquiry into those matters,” he said. ”The Coalition has lost that point of difference because of the ICAC inquiry.”
Mr Stirton said 2010 to 2013 was an ”extraordinary period” where only the ”absolute diehards” were voting Labor.
”What this poll is saying is that period has now ended and we’re back to a two-party system where the parties will have to compete to win the next election,” he said.
”While the Coalition would still clearly be favourites to win, the idea that the 2015 election is a certainty for the Coalition is now gone.” Election of a Coalition federal government ”may be a factor” affecting the popularity of the O’Farrell government.
The poll has bad news for Mr O’Farrell, revealing an 8-point slide in his personal approval rating since the Nielsen poll in March last year. His approval rating has fallen from 54 per cent to 46 per cent while his disapproval rating is up 5 points to 40 per cent for a net approval rating of 6 per cent.
Opposition Leader John Robertson’s approval rating has increased by 2 points to 34 per cent compared with last year’s poll. His disapproval rating is down 7 points to 36 per cent, for a net approval rating of minus 2 per cent.
Mr O’Farrell leads Mr Robertson as preferred premier by 50 per cent to 30 per cent. This is a 12-point deterioration for Mr O’Farrell and an improvement of 5 points for Mr Robertson.
The Greens’ primary vote is up by 2 percentage points, independents down 1 point and others steady.
Source – incl Video: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/corruption-fallout-hits-ofarrell-20140228-33r7p.html