ACC’s Conscious Disregard for Claimants Health
By Maree Howard
In the latest development of the ongoing ACC saga, Scoop has learned from claimants and a central North Island lawyer, that class action claims are being prepared in both the North and South Island against ACC and some branch and case managers alleging misfeasance in public office. Maree Howard writes.
Fed up with what is seen as a conscious disregard for their mental and physical health, their proper rehabilitation and their rights and interests, Scoop has learned that at least 20 ACC claimants have joined with a lawyer in Auckland, one in the central North Island and at least one in the South Island, to bring misfeasance in public office claims against ACC and some branch and case managers.
Scoop understands that some lawyers who themselves have been injured in accidents are likely to offer research assistance.
The claimants allege they are under siege in what is seen as reckless indifference and a change of priority by ACC from properly rehabilitating them to denying them their entitlements, the savings from which, are being invested in the sharemarkets and money markets.
Claimants say they have a right not to be further damaged or injured by consciously deliberate acts in failing to take steps to address their medical and rehabilitation problems as would be taken by honest and reasonable people acting with care and regard to their statutory duties and obligations.
ACC cannot help but have an appreciation of the consequences naturally flowing from their acts, or were recklessly indifferent to them and are content to let it happen, a central North Island lawyer told Scoop.
ACC, its Minister and its employees have the power to cease and desist but they have not. The harm being done is able to be foreseen.
He alleges ACC has been told ad nauseum about its outrageous behaviour and the mental element of the class action claim of misfeasance is satisfied by knowledge that there is no power to engage in such conduct with the conduct calculated to inflict or produce mental or physical harm to the claimants.
Another state of mind is reckless indifference done deliberately and with knowledge of the consequences.
These are states of mind which are inconsistent with an honest attempt by public officers to perform the functions of the office, Scoop was told.
It is alleged that ACC has good knowledge of the harm because the medical profession is reporting to branch and case managers about claimants mental or psychological harm.
Scoop has seen medical reports where specialists have written to case managers many months ago about depression and other mental or psycho-social symptoms and ACC employees have done nothing about an ongoing referral for treatment.
On the other hand, if a specialist report favours ACC with a medical opinion which might even remotely suggest that the injured claimant could be dumped from the scheme, employees seem to make a referral appointment to another doctor with the speed of a startled gazelle.
Scoop has seen the claim-file writings of some branch and case managers which could reasonably be described as provocative, goading, oppressive and coercive. It seems rare that a letter will be received from ACC which does not contain some kind a threat.
Scoop has also seen ACC letters to claimants from different case managers in the same branch that are so inconsistent with each other that claimants could easily think they were dealing with two entirely different organisations with two different pieces of legislation, two different policies - or two different planets.
Is seems that the ACC legislation and the policies are not being implemented equally between branches across the country either, which means that the ACC law is being made unstable and people simply cannot understand it, or be guided by it.
Scoop has also seen medical opinions which say "overseas research suggests" without quoting the research source or whether it is accepted as valid, or has been peer reviewed.
When Scoop has been able to find "overseas research" upon which the opinion is based there is sometimes controversy, it has not been peer reviewed or there are wide differences in medical and scientific opinion. It could hardly be seen as good scientific medical evidence on which to base the treatment or "exit" of a patient.
In one instance three seperate medical conditions have recently been lumped together and, for seemingly nothing more than convenience, have been named as one condition.
Two eminent U.S. specialist's challenged that by saying that if people have a heart condition and cancer at the same time, would the medical profession lump those two together and call them one condition.
They argue that patient's and the medical profession as a whole are being badly served which means that patient's are not receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment they require.
Scoop has been told that the class action misfeasance in public office claims against ACC are still in the preparation stage with more claimants likely to join.
Allegations about ACC have
been flying every-which-way in the media and the court of
public opinion for some time. The ACC Minister refused an
earlier request for a public inquiry so, win or lose, the
allegations now look set to be given a full airing in a
public court of law.