Lung screening delays for Queensland mine workers and new industry entrants are potentially about to cause havoc for the industry according to a mining industry recruitment professional. It is expected that mine workers may need to wait in excess of six weeks after pre-employment medicals for final results.
The recent amendments to the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017 that commenced on 1 March 2019 made the second reading of chest x-rays by Lungscreen Australia a mandatory requirement under the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme.
External provider Lungscreen Australia was awarded a Queensland Government tender for the provision of services to the Department of Natural Resources Mines Energy (DNRME) in September 2017.
The Department said Australian B-readers registered with DNRME can undertake the first B-read and then must provide this to Lungscreen to complete the dual-reading process.’ Lungscreen will then classify coal mine worker chest X-rays according to the ILO Classification and provide the final ILO report back to the referring doctor.
The catch for the industry lies in that interim reports are no longer being issued by the second reader and there may be delays in processing second reads because of current volumes.
‘The new process may currently result in significant delays for new entrants to the industry or existing mine workers who leave their chest x-ray until the last moment.’
An industry recruitment specialist (who wished to remain anonymous) told AMSJ that ‘I now have candidates who went for medicals and x-rays on 1 March and they are still waiting for their 2nd reads to be done. The delay is currently around a 6 week period however, as more and more people get their X-rays done, that delay may get longer and longer.’
Unfortunately for many candidates, an official offer of employment is usually not issued until the final confirmation report is received.
Current mine workers who are scheduled for five-yearly full medicals are also required to register with Lungscreen Australia and have their chest X-ray completed with a provider.
According to the industry specialist, the delays in processing could result in mine workers getting locked out of work if they don’t have a current medical with x-ray completed.
They won’t be able to get exemptions to come on site and will need to take leave according to one employer.
‘It is recommended that all industry personnel take a pro-active approach to get their own X-rays in early’ the industry recruitment specialist said.
AMSJ contacted a spokesperson from Lungscreen Australia today and was advised ‘there was a sudden influx of new applications in early March in line with the transition to the new legislation and the organisation had just commenced employing people. The only reason for future delays would be if there were some issues with the transfer of imaging from other radiologist companies or there was incorrect information or details received from the applicant.’
The spokeswoman said ‘the organisation would be better placed to rapidly process and read imaging in the future.’
Who is Lungscreen Australia?
A search of publically available records revealed that Lung Screen Australia Pty Ltd was registered in November 2016. Its’ business name was registered on 14/12/2017 shortly after it was confirmed as the successful tenderer for the Department.
Lung Screen Australia Pty Ltd current shareholders include McMullen Pty Ltd (33%) owned by Radiologist Dr Nigel Sommerfeld and Marechal Pty. Ltd (67%) owned by Helen Stevens, Chief Finance and Commercial Operations of Imaging Queensland. Former shareholder, Dr Siavash Es’haghi currently remains one of three Directors of the company after transferring a 33% shareholding.
Dr Siavash Es’haghi and Ms Stevens are both listed as Executive Team members of Imaging Queensland which runs a range of radiological services businesses throughout the state including Breast Diagnostic Specialists, Sunshine Coast Radiology, Moreton Bay Radiology, Advanced Women’s Imaging and Queensland Nuclear Medicine.
Dr Sommerfeld is listed as part-time as a Staff Specialist at Nambour General Hospital. All appear on the Imaging Queensland site as current team members.
Please Note: AMSJ is in no way implying in this article that Lung Screen Australia has been responsible for delays aforementioned. We note that Lung Screen Australia is a professional partner to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines agreement for undertaking dual-readings of all chest X-rays taken as part of the health assessment under the Coal Mine Worker’s Health Scheme (CMWHS). The control and management of screening programs are undertaken by the Department.
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