“A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.”
― Robert A. Heinlein,
The March 2017 NWEF conference displayed a clear example wherein decision making becomes internally focused, defined by the needs and beliefs of the group.
Everyone nods their head and no-one in the audience calls out “that doesn’t sound right“. Called “groupthink” it critically clouds decision making and of course the point about groupthink is that, if you are part of the group, you don’t realise that it’s there until it’s too late.
The legal advisor to NWEF, a person at the heart of the Fisher judicial review, harped on about the clarification given in the hearing he lost (note he says it was the PMAB who were the last decision makers, but this review of Mr Fisher’s injury award had Wirz’s fingerprints on it since 2008)
NW [Nicholas Wirz] provided an update on the recent high court judgement Fisher v Northumbria and PMAB. He highlighted the outcome of the judgement confirmed the case law brought about in the cases of Anton, Ayre and Walther (1).
Ground 1 of the Fisher judgement related to comparator and the use of Police Salary, the high court judge quashed the PMAB determination for the reasons that the comparison between injured and uninjured earnings was not analysed sufficiently and there was no rationale as to why police officer salary was not used.
Clarification is provided by this judgement that police officer salary would be the correct comparator where the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy.
Look at the sentence highlighted bold. The Fisher JR doesn’t say the police salary is the only correct comparator. It says the police salary should be the start and, if the tests have been passed for the quantum to be calculated, as much effort should go into defining the uninjured as the injured earning capacity. Uninjured earning capacity could be higher if the person was under-employed as a police officer. We examined this with an example of an Oral and maxillofacial surgeon in this blog.
But let us examine the other nonsense about being “otherwise healthy”. What is Wirz trying to imply here?
A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measure of how efficiently kidneys filter the waste from our blood. Healthy young people commonly have GFRs of about 120. A GFR lower than 60 or another marker of kidney damage for more than three months means chronic kidney disease (CKD). At which point, patients become scared.
But wait a minute. Kidney function declines with age in almost everyone, and the proportion of older people with GFR readings below 60 approaches 50 percent, studies have found. As the older adult population grows, the prevalence may rise even higher.
So there is an age-related decline in kidney function; however, not all individuals will develop CKD with advancing age and not all patients diagnosed with CKD need to worry about dialysis, because that’s what they associate with kidney disease.
When you’re told you have a disease, that’s a bad day. A doubly bad day for you in the warped world of Wirz: On the day your kidney disease was diagnosed, you woke up that morning with at least an uninjured earning capacity of a police officer – you went to bed without it, indeed supposedly with no uninjured earning capacity and therefore a default reduction to a band one.
Should a diagnosis of CKD effect your injury award? No? Yes? Maybe…?
Nicholas Wirz thinks it should because now you are not “otherwise healthy”.
We can hear Wirz shouting at us! ‘Don’t use your kidney disease example to misrepresent NWEF’s position’.
A “straw man” is when an argument is put forth —usually something extreme or easy to argue against—that is known that the opponent doesn’t support. You put forth a straw man because you know it will be easy for you to knock down or discredit. We can’t find a word that describes when the argument actually pulls a punch compared to the true position maintained by the opponent – some sort of inverse straw-man.
Chronic Kidney Disease? Pah!, Wirz trumps that with neurological disease, namely Parkinsons.
So let us highlight the guidance Wirz has been providing to SMPs since 2014.
e.g. if an individual were to have developed advanced Parkinson’s disease since the last review, such that he was unable to work by reason of the symptoms of that disease alone, then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil. Alternatively, if an officer were to have become generally less fit by reason of advancing age, such that he was no longer able to undertake a physically demanding job, or no longer able to work full time, then the uninjured earning capacity would be reduced accordingly.
“[…] then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil.” That line is worth repeating.
The uninjured earning capacity is the alternative universe “you“. The you that wasn’t injured; the you that excelled at life; the you that aspired to be the best and had no injury holding you back; the you back in the day when the world was your oyster. It is not the you in the real world, as you are now with co-morbidities. Co-morbidity is the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with (that is, concomitant or concurrent with) a primary disease or disorder.
Is Wirz a time-lord? Can he categorically say you would have suffered from Parkinsons (or chronic kidney disease) HAD YOU NOT BEEN INJURED? Maybe the trauma led to the additional disorders? Who knows. This is as ridiculous as it gets.
Do you see what Wirz is trying to insert into the brains of those who listen to him?
A former officer has physical injuries all caused on duty. His injuries have only deteriorated and he has struggled with chronic pain and mental health issues directly related to the chronic pain. He has taken tricyclic antidepressants for long term analgesia. He has chronic kidney disease because of the decades of reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
On his fifty-eighth birthday, he is diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson’s disease. Just when he, and his family, needs his injury pension, Nicholas Wirz wants to make him a zero percent band one and remove thousand of pounds from their income.
But his duty injury is no better! Is he now two hundred percent disabled? Yes, he has a further disability but this has nothing to do with his permanent disablement for carrying out the full duties of a police officer. In effect, to reintroduce any concurrent disablement is tantamount to revisiting causation and apportionment. Such lawyer tricks have been already declared unlawful.
Wirz wants to carry his corruption to the high court in order to “clarify” how things, in his world, should be. A vulnerable person will be taken through hell just because Nicholas Wirz thinks the law needs to be tested.
This is what IODPA is dealing with. If only other organisations, those there for the support of those injured on duty, will take up the clarion call and help us to stop these abuses.