Changes to certification of capacity / fitness in response to COVID-19
Treating physiotherapists and psychologists can now provide certification of an injured person’s ability to work as a result of amendments to the Workers Compensation Regulation 2016 and Motor Accident Guidelines.
The amendments, which came into effect on Friday 17 April 2020, are intended to relieve pressure on general practitioners and the overall health system during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also make it easier for injured people to continue to receive their weekly benefits, without needing to visit their treating doctor.
A general practitioner must continue to issue the initial certificate of fitness or certificate of capacity to an injured road user or worker. This is important so that the person’s full health needs can be assessed.
Thereafter, the treating physiotherapist or psychologist can issue second and subsequent certificates to an injured person if the injury relates to their area of expertise.
The amendments have been enabled by the COVID-19 Legislative Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 which made changes to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 by providing Regulation and guideline making powers.
The amendments will be in place for 12 months, unless repealed earlier.
Issuing certificates for more than 28 days
A reminder that a certificate of fitness or certificate of capacity can be issued for more than 28 days in some circumstances. This may be appropriate if a person’s injury is stable and unlikely to change over the period of the certificate.
A longer certificate can reduce the risk for injured people and medical practitioners potentially being exposed to COVID-19 and lessen the demand on our health system.
Medical practitioners and insurers are encouraged to proactively discuss longer certificates with injured people where appropriate.
Motor accident guidelines updated
There have been further urgent amendments to the Motor accident guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that:
- provide regulatory relief during COVID-19 to CTP insurers when complying with timeframes for electronic transition of eGreenSlips to Transport for NSW
- implement measures to allow treating physiotherapists or psychologists to issue certificates of fitness as outlined above.
The amendments apply to Part 2 (Table 2.2: Timeframes for insurers electronically transmitting an eGreenSlip) and Part 4 (Evidence of fitness for work) of the guidelines and will be in place for 12 months, unless repealed earlier.
Workers compensation guidelines updated
SIRA has amended the Workers compensation guidelines to:
- reduce regulatory barriers
- provide clarity for insurers and other stakeholders regarding the approach to arranging work capacity assessment appointments and independent medical examinations.
Changes to workers compensation hearing services
SIRA has made some temporary changes to workers compensation hearing services to reduce the demand on health services and the need for workers to travel to hearing clinics.
Telehealth can now be used for the fitting and replacement of hearing aids where technology allows and the clinician deems it appropriate. The Hearing Aid Fees Order has been updated to include a telehealth code.
For replacement hearing aids, the need for certification from a general practitioner has been temporarily removed to reduce the demand on general practitioners.
Where a worker’s hearing has not changed significantly, the hearing service provider can use the previous assessment to eliminate the need for a face to face hearing assessment.
Workers compensation Fees Orders
The following workers compensation Fees Orders have been updated:
- Workers Compensation (Medical Practitioner Fees) Order 2020 No.3
- Workers Compensation (Surgeon Fees) Order 2020 No.2
- Workers Compensation (Orthopaedic Surgeon Fees) Order 2020 No.2
- Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation (Medical Examinations and Reports Fees) Order 2020 No.2
- Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation (Injury Management Consultants Fees) Order 2020 No.2
- Workers Compensation (Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy Fees) Order 2020 No.3
- Workers Compensation (Psychology and Counselling Fees) Order 2020 No.3
- Workers Compensation (Accredited Exercise Physiology Fees) Order 2020 No.3
- Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation (Independent Consultants Fees) Order 2020 No.3
- Workers Compensation (Hearing Aid Fees) Order 2020 No.2
The amendments reflect changes to telehealth, certification of capacity and fitness by treating physiotherapists and psychologists, various definitions, payment classification coding and independent medical examinations.
Join the NSW Personal Injury COVID-19 LinkedIn group
SIRA remains committed to the delivery of timely and relevant communications to our stakeholders as we continue to work through the COVID-19 crisis.
To help facilitate this, we have created a new Personal Injury COVID-19 LinkedIn group to share important information and insights relevant to the NSW personal injury sector. In this group we will share information about SIRA’s work to help our stakeholders and customers during this difficult time, including immediate updates on things such as legislative changes, telehealth services and dispute resolution.
Click here to join the group and engage in the discussion.
The SIRA website is being continually updated with information about SIRA's response to COVID-19. There is also a COVID-19 hub for injured road users and workers.
Subscribe to the SIRA bulletin and follow SIRA's LinkedIn to never miss an update.