Update to Dispute Resolution Service medical assessments during COVID-19

To protect the wellbeing of injured people, stakeholders and decision-makers, the SIRA Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) will minimise in-person medical assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In delivering an alternative to in-person medical assessments, DRS referred to the following guidelines:

Changes to medical assessments

DRS will defer psychiatric assessments scheduled up to Friday 1 May 2020 unless a Skype examination has already been determined by DRS to be suitable. DRS will also defer physical assessments scheduled up to Friday 22 May 2020, unless it has already determined an alternative method of assessment.

DRS will seek submissions from parties regarding suitable alternatives to an in-person assessment to resolve medical disputes.

Parties should contact DRS if a matter (that cannot be progressed with an alternative approach) should be considered for in-person medical assessment due to exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances may include, but are not limited to:

  • a decision is required to determine entitlement to a statutory benefit
  • a decision is needed for an urgent claims assessment matter
  • the injured person has a terminal illness
  • the injured person has financial hardship
  • the injured person has travel, residency or visa restrictions
  • a dispute matter is currently in court.

DRS will instruct parties of the time, date and mode of assessment once determined. It will take time to determine the mode of assessment, make alternative arrangements, and/or provide notice of cancellation. Prompt response from insurers and legal representatives will expedite the process.

When matters are cancelled because assessment can only proceed in-person (and there are no exceptional circumstances identified) they will be placed on a ‘pending medical matters’ list for allocation as soon as practicable.

DRS will continue to work with medical assessors regarding in-person assessments and advise when and how such assessments could safely proceed in-line with NSW Public Health Orders.

We understand the disruption this has caused and thank people for their patience and support during this time.