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ACC Changes Must Protect the Rights of Injured Workers

ACC Changes Must Protect the Rights of Injured Workers

It is essential the rights of people with hearing injuries are protected under proposed ACC reforms, the National Foundation for the Deaf said today. The changes, announced by ACC Minister Nick Smith this afternoon, will allow employers to choose their workplace insurer and bed in other measures relating to employer safety records and accident management. Dr Smith also announced moves to provide more independence for the Disputes Resolution Service that hears claims against ACC decisions.

“At the heart of these changes are still people who are injured at work and we cant lose sight of that,” NFD chief executive Louise Carroll said today. “The debate about levies and the financial health of ACC are important, but whats more important is that people with injuries still get the rehabilitation they need and they are entitled to.

“For people with injured hearing, that is particularly important because many of these cases first happened some time ago, and their rights must not be sacrificed in the drive for privatisation and cost cuts.”

Mrs Carroll said the National Foundation for the Deaf would be making submissions next year on the rules governing insurer choice, and it was important the government listened to the NFD and similar organisations because people were coming to such organisations for advice and support for their injuries and for their claims.

In particular, she said the NFD wanted to see an independent monitoring regime across all providers to ensure any focus on cost reduction is not at the expense of service quality. “For all its faults, a government-based ACC scheme is still centralised, standardised, and accountable to its stakeholders and ultimately the people of New Zealand,” she said.

“Private insurers and corporations are accountable to their shareholders – often based overseas – and it is crucial the hard-won rights of New Zealanders who are injured at work are protected.”

Mrs Carroll welcomed moves to provide greater independence to the Disputes Resolution Service, currently wholly-owned by ACC. “For people to have confidence in DRS decisions, it is important there is more separation between DRS and ACC,” she said.

“That is a step forward, but we cant take a step backwards in other areas ACC covers.”

ENDS

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