e-bulletin No. 113 - January 2021
Changes to medical procedures due to Public Health Order
Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 directs that a person must wear a fitted face covering at all times when the person is in an indoor area in certain premises, or parts of premises, in Greater Sydney. Restricted premises include retail or business premises that provide goods or services to members of the public. The Order came into force on 3 January 2021.
Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 applies to assessments undertaken by Approved Medical Specialists for the WCC. While Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 doesn’t apply to premises used for the purpose of providing health services, assessments by Approved Medical Specialists are not “health services”, as defined.
In compliance with Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021, Approved Medical Specialists, injured workers and other persons (interpreter or support person) attending an in-person appointment in Greater Sydney must wear a face mask during the in-person assessment. The person being assessed may remove the mask at the instruction of the Approved Medical Specialists if it is necessary for the assessment but must resume wearing the mask as soon as practicable after that aspect of the assessment ends.
WCC will continue to contact workers prior to the in-person appointment to ensure the worker may attend the appointment and that the worker still wishes to attend. Workers or their legal representatives may request that an in-person appointment be cancelled and wait until the current restrictions are eased.
The requirement to wear face masks must be complied with until Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 is amended or withdrawn.
WCC provides workers with a face mask and hand sanitiser for all in-person appointments. Workers should ensure they take the face mask to the appointment. The appointment will not proceed if the worker does not wear a mask.
In-person, psychiatric assessments will not take place in the Greater Sydney area until the face mask restriction is amended or withdrawn. A mask would reduce non-verbal communication and it would be difficult for the Approved Medical Specialist and injured worker to properly communicate for up to 1½ hours while wearing face masks. Psychiatric assessment by video will continue to be used wherever suitable.
The document, WCC – Published Protocols for Medical Assessments During Pandemic has been updated (as at 6 January 2021) to reflect these changes.
WCC will continue to monitor community transmission rates and may cease in-person assessments at short notice if there is deemed to be an unacceptable risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of those who use our services, our medical specialists and staff.
Best wishes for the year ahead and the challenges that will continue for the immediate future.