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Howard's End: ACC Case Management Audit

The Office of the Auditor-General has today confirmed to Scoop that it will conduct a study into the effectiveness and efficiency of ACC's case management processes and procedures. Agony and ACC create a private hell. Maree Howard writes.

News that the Auditor-General is to conduct a study into ACC case management processes and procedures is being applauded by injured claimants who have long been expressing concern with the confrontational attitudes, effectiveness and efficiency of ACC and its case managers.

When told of the study the wife of one long-term claimant told Scoop: "There is a God after all," and then broke-down sobbing on the phone.

Another said: " ACC has cost this country millions of dollars because of its confrontational and adverserial behaviour towards people. And how much of the $3.8 billion ACC has invested has been lost on the money markets?"

"This is about years lost, trust broken and health ruined. The public will be shocked to see how their money has been used," he added.

"We have one case manager in our area who we call Hitler's daughter. She got sacked from the Gestapo for cruelty," he said.

Claimants have been calling on ACC Minister, Hon Lianne Dalziel, to order a public inquiry along the lines of the 1994 Judge Peter Trapski Inquiry into ACC, but she has refused.

Craig Neil from the Auditor-General's Office said the study should commence within the next 1-2 months and would also look at ACC's rehabilitation policy and practice, claims streaming, claims payment accuracy and dispute resolution.

The Office also provides reports and advice to select-committee's to assist in their financial reviews of Government departments and Offices of Parliament, State-Owned Enterprises and Crown Entities, and advice or assistance for other inquiries conducted by select-committee’s.

The Office plans to consult with claimants and advocacy groups during the study but details have yet to be announced.

Five South Island long-term claimants approached Scoop with their concerns about ACC some months ago and they were asked to provide written statements listing their treatment by case managers. Scoop was then kept informed of day-to-day developments and a concerning pattern developed, not just in the South Island, but from other regions of the country as well.

It was not localised to individual branches which might be described as errors of judgement or bad behaviour by individuals. There appears to be serious deficiencies in ACC staff attitudes and a pattern of perversity across the ACC network.

Around 12 months ago ACC engaged a Wellington-based company called Instep to provide professional supervision for ACC Case Managers and Team Leaders but despite promising to respond to Scoop's questions they have yet to do so and their functions still remain a secret.

Some claimants allege that while the public is paying around $2 billion each year to ACC they are not receiving the full range of treatment, social and vocational rehabilitation to which they are entitled. They allege that for the most part they are not even properly informed.

Scoop has carried two recent columns about claimants concerns with ACC.

The 1994 Judge Peter Trapski Inquiry into the Processes and Procedures of ACC was scathing and claimants allege that nothing has changed and for the most part it has got worse.

Some claimants have already lodged a complaint against ACC with police alleging contravention of statute while others have been busy gathering funds and pledges for a retired judge or QC to conduct a private inquiry after the Minister refused their requests for a public inquiry.

The claimants say their concerns are about justice and the rule of law and they are hoping the Office of the Auditor-General holds ACC accountable and it has to face up to its alleged unhealthy behaviour towards people.


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