Surge in psychological injury claims
Psychological injuries are taking a severe and worsening toll on the NSW healthcare workforce.
The rate of compensation claims for psychological injuries among nurses and midwives in NSW has increased by an alarming 150 per cent over the last nine years, a study shows.
The study found workers in healthcare and social assistance (HSA) filed almost double the number of psychological injury claims made to icare, the state-owned insurer, compared to workers in all non-healthcare industries.
The study was commissioned by the Healthy Lives Research Group at Monash University and released in November.
Using data from more than 200,000 workers, the study examined the psychological health of HSA workers and the risk factors that lead to higher instances of psychological injury among them.
It describes nurses, midwives, ambulance officers and social workers as “highly impacted jobs”.
Among nurses and midwives, the most common causes of psychological injury related to “interpersonal relationships at work, including with co-workers (harassment and bullying) or members of the public (occupational violence)”.
Stress and anxiety were found to be the most common type of psychological injuries, accounting for two-thirds of cases.
Post-traumatic stress disorder was most common among ambulance officers.
The duration of disability in psychological injury claims among nurses and midwives, aged and disability carers, ambulance officers, social workers, and administrators and managers also increased over the last nine years.
HSA workers with psychological injury claims have prolonged periods of work disability, with time off work exceeding 13 weeks in more than 50 per cent of claims.
Psychological injuries accounted for 25 per cent of the total time lost due to any injury in the HSA industry.
In contrast, psychological injuries accounted for 16.7 per cent of time lost due to any injury in other industries.
Social, demographic and occupational risk factors for psychological injury claims in HSA workers included “older age, higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, and working full-time”.
“Study findings demonstrate a pressing need to focus on prevention and early intervention in the HSA industry, in order to minimise the frequency of psychological injury and the associated disability,” the study authors said.
Nurses, carers among worst affected
Psychological injury claims have grown rapidly in the HSA industry in NSW over the past nine years, most notably since 2015/16.
The strongest growth was among nurses and midwives (150.6 per cent growth), ambulance officers (138.5 per cent) and social workers (104.1 per cent).
There was a 31.2 per cent increase in claims for psychological injuries among aged and disabled carers.