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  Issue No 38 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 November 1999  




Trades Hall

Mary Yaager's Medicine for WorkCover

The medical costs in the workers compensation system have risen enormously and yet injured workers are staying off work longer and also taking longer to recover

In the past few years these costs have soured and the areas which have seen significant increases are in rehabilitation ,injury and investigative treatment

The cost of rehab has gone from $10million to $50 million over the last few years.

I recently invited Professor Nik Bogduk, from the University of Newcastle's Bone and Joint Institute and Professor Cousins from the Pain Management Research Centre, University of Sydney to address the Workers Advisory Council. These Doctors treat patients at the end of the line when everything has failed and they are on the scrap heap.

According to Professor Nik Bogduk the reason for the blow out in these costs and the poor return to work and recovery rates of injured workers is due to the lack of control that the GP has in the process and the only way to overcome this problem is to empower the GPs.

Nik stated that the scientific based evidence shows that confidence by doctors and patients improves recovery and reduces chronic problems and that doctors and patients are often afraid that back pain is a sign of serious disease however this is extremely rare Also bed rest is a real no no and that activity is the key -, workers need to go back to work as soon as possible.

Nik said give the GPs the tools to better equip them to deal with work related issues and this will not only reduce costs but more importantly will get workers back to work.

Nik said return to work is not only desirable but proven to be beneficial- keeping patients off work is deleterious. The provision of proper modified duties and dealing with patients fears such as going back to an unsafe work place is far more beneficial than ''restricted' or "light duties" which are usually bullshit


Nik says workers are afraid of the accident which caused the pain and often won't return to work for fear of it happening again. However, they will overcome this fear if they are reassured that measures have been taken to avoid such accidents. It is imperative to improve the workplace to make it safer and comfortable enabling and encouraging a prompt return to work Often the measures to modify the workplace are not great and of more significance maintains the dignity of the worker.

Nik further stated the GP together with the patient and employer should be able to come to an agreement to provide a welcoming place at work while the patients recovers from any acute episode.

Nik said the latest research has shown by and large that specialist intervention may not be necessary a well trained GP can provide can provide most of the care that an injured worker needs.

The Workers Compensation Advisory Council has asked Professors Bogduk, Harris and Cousins to assist them in developing a tool kit for GPs and it is expected that it will be rolled out in Feb 2000.


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*   Issue 38 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Peter Reith
We�ve fought him for the last four years, perhaps it�s time to try to understand him.
*  Education: The Boston Strangler
If the teachers' salaries "offer" had been any good, John Aquilina, the Minister for Good News Only, would have made the announcement and been seen to promote it.
*  Economics: Key Indicators
A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures
*  Unions: Dili's Union Presence
The International Federation of Journalists� Safety Office for the Media in East Timor (SOMET) is conducting an investigation into the recent killings of two journalists in East Timor.
*  History: Maritime Dispute Records
A Joint ACTU � ASSLH project will identify and preserve as many records as possible arising from the 1997-98 Maritime Dispute.
*  International: Western Mining into Guns and Gold
An Australian mining company, Western Mining Company Limited (WMCL), has effectively won the support of the Philippines army in its battle with traditional owners in Southern Mindano.
*  Satire: Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
Gay scientists today released a study which, they claim, at last identifies the �Christian Gene".
*  Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, our resource for students, delegates and officials.

»  Reith : Directly Elect the ACTU President Too
»  Unions Launch Search to Fill Games With Local Workers
»  Public Servants Offered Quadruple Time for New Years Eve
»  If You Want to Protest - Dump the Preamble
»  Six Minutes To Clean a Classroom: Cleaners Draw the Line
»  New Labour Advisory Council Meets
»  Teachers Pay Site Doesn�t Give Full Story
»  Bankstown Students Win Union Support
»  Workers to Use AGM to Call Telstra to Account
»  Unions On Line Conference
»  Foxy Officials to Crash Backlot
»  POSITION VACANT - APHEDA, Union Aid Abroad.

»  Guest Report
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  Lines of Demarcation
»  Referendum? No Dam(n) Choice!
»  With Friends Like These ...
»  Get Real

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