A general practitioner must continue to issue the initial certificate of capacity to a worker. This is important so that the person’s full health needs can be assessed.
Thereafter, the SIRA-approved treating physiotherapist or SIRA-approved treating psychologist can assess injuries within their area of expertise, and issue second and subsequent certificates of capacity.
The changes 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 workers to continue to receive their weekly benefits, without needing to visit their nominated treating doctor.
The changes came into effect on 17 April 2020 and will be in place for 12 months, unless repealed earlier.
Issuing second and subsequent certificates
The physiotherapist or psychologist that is treating the worker must be SIRA approved, can assess injuries within their area of expertise and issue second and subsequent certificates of capacity. The purpose of the certificate is to provide information about a worker’s capacity for work, enabling the insurer to then make a decision to determine the worker’s weekly entitlements.
If a subsequent certificate covers a period that overlaps with a period covered by an earlier certificate, then the later certificate prevails for the whole of the period covered by the later certificate.
If the worker seeking a certificate has more than one type of injury and is being treated by more than one type of practitioner, the treating physiotherapist/psychologist needs to consider whether the workers should be referred back to their medical practitioner to certify their overall capacity.
For example, where a worker has both a primary psychological injury and primary physical injury, but the physical injury is not impacting on their work capacity, however the psychological injury is impacting, it may be appropriate for the psychologist to issue the certificate. However where both injuries are impacting capacity for employment, the worker should be referred back to their medical practitioner to issue the certificate.
Assessing a person’s ability to work
In the current environment of COVID-19 it is imperative that a person who has capacity, is certified with capacity to work, so they remain work ready, connected and where required receive assistance in returning to work. For example, this may include return to work assistance from a workplace rehabilitation provider.
It is important to assess and certify the current capacity of the worker, irrespective of whether suitable employment is available. Our training package will help guide the treating physiotherapist or treating psychologist through completing the form.
Completing the certificate
The SIRA-approved treating physiotherapist or SIRA-approved treating psychologist must complete the Certificate of capacity/certificate of fitness – treating physiotherapist or psychologist form.
Another certificate will need to be issued prior to expiration of the current certificate, unless the injury has resolved or no longer impacts on the person’s capacity for work.
To learn more about issuing a second and subsequent certificate of capacity, see SIRAs Claims Management Guide.
We have developed training videos to guide treating physiotherapists and treating psychologists on assessing a person’s capacity to work.
1. SIRA Certifying capacity/fitness for work: An introduction for treating physiotherapists and psychologists, amendment overview – part one
- Assessing capacity for patients with psychological condition
- Clinical framework for the delivery of health services
2. SIRA Certifying capacity/fitness for work: An introduction for treating physiotherapists and psychologists, populating the certificate – part two
The Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy Fees Order 2020 No.3 and the Psychology and Counselling Fees Order 2020 no.3 have been updated to include a $38 fee for completion and issuing of one subsequent certificate only.