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Yet Another Comedy of Errors, Acts I & II

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Prologue:

This is not really a comedy but without a sense of humour and the odd injection of sarcasm this injured worker would explode from the frustration and disappointment that being in this system has created.

I am heading back to conciliation on May 13 to battle for part-payments of compensation since declaring in December 2012 that I have a limited capacity for part-time work. I am also disputing my WorkSafe authorized Agent’s refusal to pay any of my medical expenses over the last 2-3 years.

Acts 1 and 2 can now be written but Act 3 will have to await the outcome of the conciliation conference. But as you will see, the outcome could well provide the comic highlight of the performance.

You in the audience may laugh, clap or cry as you read my sad little play.

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Insurer acts under WorkCover’s big circus tent

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ConciliationMail-03

It’s astounding the levels the WorkSafe Agent will stoop too (which are the levels WorkSafe obviously set) in order to avoid their responsibility with my WorkCover claim. I’m going to keep up with this documenting as I want to encourage other injured workers to fight these pathetic insurer circus acts. It’s unacceptable, not to mention, not what my WorkCover premium was paid for. Where’s my ‘quality income protection’, where is my return to work help, and where is my income and medical financial help?

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No Partridge in a Pear Tree to be Found, I’m Preparing for Conciliation… Again!

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(Sing with me, to the tune of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas”:

16 points of stimulation,
multiple case managers,
too many Independent* Medical Examinations,
9 anaesthetics,
Several investigations,
wasted complaints to WorkSafe,
Four conciliation applications,
Three operations,
Two Medical Panel Opinions,
One Impairment Assessment,
and,
no Partridge in a Pear Tree to be found…

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Insult and Injury

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How’s this for an opening line to my post: Perspectives on workers compensation issues from Dr Peter Sharman – Occupational Physician. Hopeful and hopeful is it not? Finally a practitioner putting it out there and standing up for a better Australian Worker’s compensation system. It’ll be no surprise that Dr Sharman and I connected over…

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Formal Complaint to WorkSafe Victoria

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21st May, WorkSafe’s Andrew calls

My long wait was over, or so I thought, when on 21st May I received a call from a Service Review Analyst working with WorkSafe’s Capability & Service Division.

Yes, it did seem that they had “escalated” my complaint, as promised, and I would at last be given some answers. But my hopes were soon dashed as the guy on the other end of the line tried to explain to me why it was taking so long to deal with my complaint. He told me that WorkSafe was having to seek further information as to whether I was making an additional complaint or was merely hoping for a response to my original one. I made it clear that I was still awaiting a definite response to my original complaint. Having then established that we were both on the same page, the caller said that he was in fact ringing to apologize to me for the delay. No reason for this was given.

When I inquired how he would feel if he was in my situation, he once again apologised to me.

As you might have gathered by now, I found this phone call to have been awkward, uncoordinated, empty and senseless.  It was patently obvious that he had not looked all that deeply (if at all) into my complaint.

Was he inexperienced and being thrown in at the deep end by his manager?  Or had he been told to play “dumb”? I wondered whether WorkSafe really does have a mechanism in place to investigate legitimate complaints! Perhaps their lack of response serves as a tactic to deter most people from pursuing answers to their complaints.

But once more I find myself waiting with “bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness” for some honest answers. Honest answers and compensation payments that I believe are fully justified.

20th May, Soula follows up:

Hi Liz,

Can you give me the ‘relevant person’s’ name and direct contact please? I’m beginning to think they don’t exist. It really shouldn’t take this long.

13th May, from WorkSafe’s, Lizabelle

Hi Soula,

Thanks for your further email.

Please be advised that I have referred your email to the relevant person looking into your complaint for his information and response.

Should you have any further queries…Blah blah

12th May, Soula follows up:

Hello Anthony,

Are you able to follow the ‘escalation’ of my enquiry. I feel it may have been lost on the way…

May I remind you the original enquiry was made on April 4th. Pretty poor on WorkSafe’s behalf I feel.

Soula Mantalvanos

24th April, Soula looks into WorkSafe’s complaint procedure

I was wondering who the Service Improvement Division were after my reply from WorkSafe. I found a

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Dear WorkSafe Victoria

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Dear WorkSafe Victoria,

We have been acquainted now for over seven years, and to commemorate this occasion the least I could do was to pen you a few heart-felt words.

Today I came across WorkSafe’s Clinical Framework For the Delivery of Health Services and I would like you to know that it made so much sense to me from my perspective as an injured worker. I was very impressed reading through it. It ticked all the boxes and its approach (Purpose) was exactly what I had hoped to experience in my own chronic pain journey under your watchful eye. The guiding principles caught my attention:

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Will I live to regret it?

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I declared I had a capacity in 2013 after being indefinitely written off for life by the Medical Panels (a Federal decision) in 2009. In what should be a most positive experience I have not received one cent from my WorkSafe Agent since January 2013 when I first declared I was attempting 9 hours a week.

It’s so difficult for me to work, I’m completely reliant on Theo but my moral ethics will not let me rest, never-failing to notifying me daily that I am able to contribute to our business and in doing so and remaining honest, this will bring a positive outcome.

I’ve had no one within the system guide me or offer help during this process. The system’s drive seems purely for the WorkSafe Agent to make any process as difficult and stressful for the injured worker so that they give up their rightful compensation or worse still, change their ethics making them so fearful that they never attempt work again.

I have never, in the whole 7 years of being exposed to this system, felt I could trust anyone, felt supported, given hope, treated with respect. I have not felt any kind of care but rather I’m left to feel and be treated guilty of my crime – a workplace accident.

I won’t accept this treatment, I won’t accept this poor income protection WorkSafe calls ‘quality income protection’, and it’s lucky for me I have help to battle and savings to live off (which are rapidly diminishing mind you). Not being intimidated, fearful, or swallowed up by this system and its primitive ways is the reason I found my diagnosis and got myself back to work! It’s the reason why a Medical Panels, for the first time, has acknowledged someone with Pudendal Neuralgia (even though they can’t verify it!!), and it’s the reason why, I’ll get my entitlements too!…

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The Medical Panels assessment of my work capacity 2014

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I know many of you have been waiting for this post. I have been waiting to post it myself but one guess what was in my way? A response from my WorkSafe Agent… and I’m still waiting for it!

I received my Medical Panels opinion and they agreed with the capacity I had presented. I was honestly stunned. My opinion read:

Question 1. Whether the worker has a current work capacity and, because of the injury, is, and is likely to continue indefinitely to be incapable of undertaking –
(ii) further or additional employment or work ; or (ii) further or additional employment or work that would increase the worker’s current weekly earnings and,
Answer: (i) yes (ii) yes
Question 2. If not so incapable, what further or additional employment or work the worker capable of undertaking?
Answer: Not Applicable

Further to, the report that followed bewildered me, tears streamed down my face. I actually didn’t want Theo to read it to me, I was too fearful I’d read another limiting opinion, like the previous one that has me bound to a ‘Chronic Pain Disorder’ that no one understands. Or, worse still, it was going to be like the Impairment Assessment where the Neurosurgeon on that panel wished me ‘a miracle’ on the way out whilst contributing to the decision of: ‘0% whole person impairment… The degree of impairment is permanent’.

Theo began… he read mostly accurate details that I had voiced to the Medical Panel, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

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Myself, Ms Soula and my pelvic pain story at the Alliance for Improving the Management of Pain 2014

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I would have had to be dead not to front up to an opportunity where I could present my pain journey to 180 chronic pain interested practitioners.

Was I terrified? Absolutely! But as if chronic pain hasn’t trained me for that, pushing me past all my boundaries and limits, and facing constant fears… this was going to be a piece of cake in comparison!

The Alliance for Improving the Management of Pain 2014 (AIM Pain 2014) was held in Sydney and PainAustralia were searching for a patient to tell their story. My first thoughts were; I had to be able to tell my pelvic pain story through art, Ms Soula had to be on the stage with me, and I worried that this was impossible to physically manage without Theo’s help. As it turned out all that was ok, in fact the organisers were most enthusiastic about the creative side, and the support for both Theo and I was 100%.

I was asked to present my story as honest as possible and in my own words and pictures.

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Off to the Convenor of Medical Panels with my invisible pain

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You know that feeling before something great is going to happen, like just arriving at the airport and knowing you’re off on a great holiday? It’s a great feeling isn’t it? Makes your insides really happy, the body and mind get a lift, and troubles seem to slide away, everything feels like it’s going to be alright. Well, I couldn’t feel more the opposite right now. I have an appointment with the Convenor of Medical Panels on Tuesday and I’m feeling more like I’m facing a funeral.

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

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