WorkSafe Victoria, problems, doctors and political shenanigans

April 10, 2015

Doctor’s attitudes towards WorkCover in Victoria

AMA Victoria did a survey of doctors attitudes towards issues regarding workers compensation in Victoria in December 2014 and January 2015. As expected comments were made that these patients generally demand more time, attention and effort than other patients but this is not reflected in the remuneration rates for medical practitioners.  There were concerns about the way the scheme was operated in particular its adversarial nature, the complex processes that resulted in delays getting approval for appropriate treatment and mitigated against an early return to work. There were also a range of ethical issues. Just over half of the survey respondents considered reducing their participation in the scheme and almost 20% considered withdrawing fully.

Victorian branch of the AMA prepared a submission to a WorkSafe Victoria independent review of reimbursement rates for medical services

This submission noted the results of the survey and commented on particular matters including:

Inadequate reimbursement

  • some activities not reimbursed at all
  • doctors feeling like you’re being treated as the enemy
  • a recommendation at the AMA list of services and fees was more reasonable than using the medical benefits schedule.

 A Breakup of WorkSafe Expenditure

 in 2013/2014 the largest cost to the scheme was compensation paid to workers for loss of earnings amounting to $624 million or 42% of total scheme costs. By contrast the medical practitioner component treatment and rehabilitation costs was estimated at $102 million, just over 30% of all treatment and rehabilitation costs and less than 7% of total scheme costs.

However in the meantime in early March 2015 the Labour government fired the Chief Executive Officer and chairperson of WorkSafe Victoria. The ostensible reason was because of the failure to identify health risks associated with the Fiskville Fire Brigade training depot. It is believed there was a strong political reason because those in charge were trying to move to a more cooperative framework and had met a good deal of opposition. Who knows what will happen with this review of reimbursement rates!


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