e-bulletin No. 112 - December 2020
Updated medical assessment process
The Commission suspended in-person medical assessments in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since that time, we have implemented a gradual return to in-person assessments by a two-step process. The two-step process requires:
- a pre-examination conference by telephone or video, followed by
- a face-to-face examination.
Given the continued low incidence of community transmission of COVID-19, I have decided to dispense with the requirement for a two-step process for in-person assessments, unless requested by the worker or the AMS.
The preferred method of assessment of psychiatric and psychological disorders will continue to be by video, unless an in-person assessment is necessary.
This decision applies to appointments made from the issuing of this e-bulletin. This means:
- Assessments involving psychiatric or psychological disorders will continue to be conducted by video unless the worker is unable to participate by video (that is, they cannot access/use a smartphone or other adequate device or it is determined that an in-person assessment is necessary).
- Assessments of other body systems will be conducted in-person, in a single consultation and examination, unless otherwise requested.
- An AMS or a worker may request that the assessment proceed by the two-step process. Despite a worker’s request for a two-step process, a single in-person assessment may be necessary, for example, where a worker would have difficulty participating in the pre-examination conference by telephone or video, such as in the case of worker with a traumatic brain injury.
(a) The Commission will continue to call workers approximately 72 hours before their appointment to ask COVID-19 triage questions. The appointment will be rescheduled if the worker is assessed as posing a risk.
(b) The Commission will continue to give each worker a protective face mask and hand sanitiser before they attend an in-person assessment. The AMS will advise the worker if they require the worker to wear the mask during the appointment.
The protocol document (Protocols for Medical Assessments During Coronavirus Pandemic) has been updated to reflect the above changes to practice and procedure.
The Commission continues to monitor the risk profile for COVID-19 in NSW and it will act appropriately. This means that these arrangements may change on short notice.
Listing rules for the holiday season
The timetable (accessible here) sets out the likely listing, service and reply dates, that will apply to matters filed during the relevant period, that is; the listings will be allocated on the dates indicated, subject to availability.
Practitioners are advised not to lodge dispute applications on dates that will be listed on dates that fall within or near their planned leave periods.
Please note that 20 November 2020 was the last filing date that attracted the standard listing rules, that is, a listing date 28 days after lodgment.
The timetable includes some apparently ‘odd’ outcomes, including five registration/filing dates which are forecast to have earlier listing dates than some matters registered earlier. This outcome is intended.
Christmas-New Year Arrangements
Last day for teleconference in 2020: Friday, 18 December 2020
First day for teleconference in 2021: Wednesday, 6 January 2021
Last day for con/arb in 2020: Friday, 18 December 2020
First day for con/arb in 2021: Monday, 4 January 2021
Last day for mediation in 2020: Friday, 18 December 2020
First day for mediation in 2021: Monday, 4 January 2021
Urgent matters may be listed in the period from 21 December 2020 to 31 December 2020.
Online Portal System Maintenance
The Online Portal will be shutdown from 6pm on Thursday, 24 December 2020 until 6pm on Wednesday, 30 December 2020 for scheduled system maintenance. You will not be able to login to the portal, lodge documents or access existing matters during this time. The upgrades are essential to ensure the stability of the Online Portal.
Issuing of decisions and medical assessment certificates
The usual appeal periods apply during the Christmas-New Year period. Certificates of Determination, Medical Assessment Certificates or Medical Appeal Panel decisions will not be issued from Monday, 21 December 2020 to Thursday, 31 December 2020. Consent orders lodged by parties will be issued.
Thank you and best wishes
This year has thrown up challenges we could never have imagined. I thank you for your cooperation and support, which has been essential to making sure the Commission hasn’t missed a beat. 2021 will pose challenges of a different sort, with the Personal Injury Commission commencing on 1 March.
I wish you and your families a safe and enjoyable festive season.
Judge Gerard Phillips