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Injury or illness – effects, not causes, should shape policy

Stroke Foundation media release, 18 March 2013

Injury or illness – effects, not causes, should shape policy

The Stroke Foundation says today’s Otago University report contrasting the fortunes of stroke survivors and comparable injury cases should shift focus from the cost of ACC provision to the cost of neglect.

The Otago report found that economic outcomes were much worse for stroke survivors than for comparable injury cases, mainly due to the ACC income compensation for injury cases and the efforts of the Corporation to return injury cases to work. 79% of the injury group was back at work after 12 months compared to only 49% of the Stroke Group.

Mark Vivian, Stroke Foundation CEO said: “Otago’s report begs the question of why we are treating stroke and injury cases so differently when their effect on the person’s contribution to the workforce is exactly the same. Accidental injury victims are supported and helped back to work while stroke survivors are left to their own devices, often becoming a much longer term burden on the state.

“ACC assesses people according to the cause of their inability to work even though different causes can have exactly the same effect on a person’s capacities. Because the nature of their brain injury is not deemed ‘accidental’ a stroke survivor will receive much less assistance in regaining their place as an employee and independent member of society. How much more is this costing the state than would be the case if it invested in getting them back to work quickly?”

There are over 2000 strokes in people under 65 every year. The Stroke Foundation has recently been running a successful Vocational Counsellor programme in the Auckland area. In its last 12 months it reported a success rate of over 50% in returning clients to work.

“The great value of Otago’s report is in showing the benefits of a positive hands-on approach to both injury and illness rehabilitation,” continued Mark Vivian. “It shows how one group of people is experiencing positive outcomes from the state’s active intervention while another almost directly comparable group is remaining a burden on the state for longer. We should be looking at the formation of policy on the basis of its effect on society, not making spurious distinctions on the basis of cause.”


Note to editors:

University of Otago report: Do different types of financial support after illness or injury affect socio-economic outcomes? A natural experiment in New Zealand, Dr Susan McAllister, Dr Sarah Derrett, Dr Rick Audas, Professor Peter Herbison, Professor Charlotte Paul; Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, 18 March 2013.

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