Over many years Hobart Occupational Medicine has accepted GP referrals to assist with the medical management and rehabilitation of patients with complex work-related injury and disease. This has included the provision of telephone advice, clinical and workplace assessment and, where requested by the GP and agreed in consultation with other parties, acceptance of the role of co-ordinating doctor – referred to as the Primary Treating Medical Practitioner (PTMP) in Tasmanian Workers compensation legislation.
In recent years, Hobart Occupational Medicine, as an AFOEM accredited training practice, has employed an AFOEM Stage B registrar. Under my supervision, the registrar has conducted most initial assessments of referred workers and, in many cases, provided ongoing management. This has been a service valued by the referring GPs as well as a valuable learning experience for the Registrars.
The current AFOEM Registrar at the practice, Dr Louise Edwards, has been successful in gaining a 6-month term as a Registrar in the Alfred Hospital Occupational Respiratory Clinic in Melbourne. Her term starts in August 2023. While this is a great learning opportunity for Dr Edwards and I expect will result in valuable knowledge and expertise being brought back to Tasmania, the situation has necessitated a review the range of services this practice can provide.
I am disappointed to advise that I have concluded that Hobart Occupational Medicine can no longer continue its commitment to accept routine GP referrals because of lack of availability of suitably qualified practitioners as I move closer to retirement.
As from 01 August 2023, Hobart Occupational Medicine can only take on very limited numbers of GP referrals, as follows:
- The practice can no longer accept workers with most types of musculoskeletal injury or conditions, except conditions that fall uniquely within the province of occupational medicine expertise, such as work-related overuse conditions.
- The practice will continue to accept referrals for assessment and management of diseases caused by workplace exposures to physical, chemical, and biological agents and patients with complex psychological conditions where workplace intervention is required.
Where your patient’s needs primarily relate to legal and employment matters e.g., the assessment of causation, impairment rating, fitness for work etc, we can continue to provide assessments, but the worker’s employer, insurer or legal practitioner must make the referral. GP referrals for that purpose cannot be accepted.
I have contacted qualified Occupational & Environmental Physicians who have a presence in Southern Tasmania about their availability to accept GP referrals and advise about treatment and rehabilitation, as a part of the injured worker’s treating team.
Dr Rob McCartney, Occupational & Environmental Physician (Founder and owner of Resile Pty Ltd) has advised that he can provide assistance when required. This organisation has a team of Occupational Physicians and Registrars who are available for telehealth services to advise about the management of injured workers with an emphasis on early intervention and rehabilitation. They have worked in Tasmania previously and provide services to various employers and insurers. The delivery of such services will be subject to the availability of employer or insurer funding.
For more information, Dr McCartney can be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org or on his mobile 0402261524.
Peter Sharman 01 August 2023