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Doctors refusing WorkCover patients

Thursday, 15 November 2012
Author: Melissa Mack, Indaily

DOCTORS are refusing to take WorkCover SA patients, forcing people to travel from as far as Murray Bridge to the city for treatment.

The Australian Medical Association president Peter Sharley said it was an ongoing and significant issue.

"I think if you have any system that requires that the GP involved invests above average time commitment on forms or meetings with case managers, that isn't efficient and that all needs quantum improvement," Sharley told Indaily.

He said although all emergency situations would be treated regardless, the red tape and potential court hearings involved with WorkCover were deterrents.

"There is a willingness to improve the system from WorkCover, but we believe that as far as output that you can display it is harder to show improvement.

"There is significant bureaucracy and red tape and the burden of commitment needs to be reduced so that particularly GPs and others can engage with WorkCover patients without compromising other parts of their service delivery.

"As far as GPs or other specialists go, to attend court to be an expert witness... adds a whole level of complexity that doesn't match the day-to-day working of a GP."

Sharley said the AMA had an "ongoing conversation with WorkCover" and was aware of financial constraints within the organisation.

"[But] that doesn't mean we can't have a more efficient machine and efficiency doesn't always equal putting in more money."

Indaily understands that some doctors that treat injured workers can spend up to three hours out of a 10-hour working day on paperwork for WorkCover, as well as attending three-to-four hour long meetings per week with case managers.

A WorkCover SA spokesperson said the organisation was aware of the challenges faced by some injured workers in accessing appropriate medical services, especially in regional and remote areas.

"WorkCover is working with the Australian Medical Association to improve the experience medical practitioners have within the WorkCover Scheme," the spokesperson said.

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