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ACC Boss Accused Of Misrepresenting The Public

BIG NEWS ACC INVESTIGATION – PART 6

ACC boss accused of misrepresenting the public over claimant surveys


By Dave Crampton

ACC boss Gary Wilson is accused of selectively engineering figures again – this time regarding customer satisfaction surveys.

Last week Mr Wilson claimed 84 percent of claimants were happy with the work of ACC, surpassing a set target of 80 percent. Late last year he claimed it was 83 percent, yet monthly figures supplied by ACC for 2002 show a slightly different picture. That is because Mr Wilson based his figure on those who have been on ACC for less than a year - and on figures as far back as June.

ACC contracts BRC Marketing and Social Research to interview ACC claimants and arrange monthly customer satisfaction surveys. What Mr Wilson refuses to reveal is that ACC has made a conscious decision not to survey long-term claimants of Catalyst Injury Management Services. Also, Mr Wilson has not said that complaints to the Ombudsman have doubled in the past couple of years, which could be another reflection of customer satisfaction. Maybe these complainants were not surveyed.

Catalyst is a subsidiary of ACC and was set up to remove long-term claimants from the scheme. Hence surveying Catalyst claimants would dramatically bring down the overall satisfaction rate in any surveys.

This month Mr Wilson said, “ACC’s performance is a heartening achievement which consistently exceeds our 80 percent target.”

Yet figures supplied by ACC show that overall claimant satisfaction has never risen above the 80 percent target, let alone exceeded it, even without surveying Catalyst claimants.

Either ACC sets targets only for claimants who have been on ACC for less than a year or Mr Wilson is misleading the public.

Mr Wilson got his 83 percent figure from those surveyed who have been on ACC for less than a year – those who are more likely to be happy with ACC as they are not part of the “tail” – long –term claimants whom ACC is keen to see the back of. Long term claimant satisfaction as surveyed has only risen above 70 percent once since at least the beginning of last year.

Claimant satisfaction of those on ACC for less than 12 months is up to 20 percent higher than for long term claimants. ACC says that consideration may be given to surveying Catalyst claimants this year – but quarterly, rather than monthly.

The margin of error for these surveys is 4 percent.

It’s not the first time ACC has misrepresented or been selective on figures. Late last year Mr Wilson told a parliamentary select committee that 60 percent of ACC’s spending was in rehabilitation, when five years ago it was 40 percent. By saying that he inflated rehabilitation costs by a massive $82 million.

Last year a study in the New Zealand Medical journal disputed ACC’s assertion that 79 percent of claimants put through ACC’s Work Capacity Assessment programme (WCAP) were working, presumably for more than 30 hours a week. This programe, now called vocational assessment, was the test used by ACC when a claimant finished rehabilitatation and had a capacity to work more than 30 hours a week, therefore ineligible for weekly compensation. ACC based its figures by the fact that 21 percent of those put through WCAP ended up on a benefit, therefore assuming the rest were working. This is dodgy, as some were not working or entitled to a benefit due to their partner’s income or their part –time income, which may have been purely interest on their savings. The study in the medical journal suggested 43 percent were working full time, the rest were either on a benefit, not eligible for a benefit, too injured to work – and therefore should have been on ACC, or not working 30 hours a week.

ACC management should be more honest when announcing results of surveys. They can then provide an accurate picture of what is going on within ACC.

The trouble is, they don’t want to do that.

ENDS

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