Howard's End: Day of ACC ‘Shame’ Looms
By Maree Howard
Demands for a Parliamentary inquiry into ACC over its alleged poor practices forms part of a list of grievances which claimants across the country are finalising for their nationwide "Day of Shame" on 18 March. Maree Howard writes.
Concerns from the public, business community and politicians about ACC practices has prompted ACC Support Action Groups (NZ) Inc., to organise a nationwide Day of Shame in two weeks and is circulating a list of grievances and solutions on the internet which will be handed to ACC branches and politicians on March 18.
Among their complaints are:
* ACC investments are expected to reach $5.4 billion by 2005 but is increasing levies while claimants are not being properly compensated or rehabilitated yet the public already pays $2.2 billion annually for that to happen.
* ACC has a deliberate policy agreement with the Government to dump 1500 long-term injured claimants just because they are long-term.
* Forcing people to costly and stressful formal review hearings because of operational and financial policies rather than the mertis of the case.
* Failing to provide an opportunity to make a submission or be heard when a senior person in ACC firstly internally reviews case manager decisions.
* In breach of the Privacy Act, sending the complete claimant file, including sensitive medical reports to its review organisation, Dispute Resolution Services Limited, when that information is irrelvant to the decision at hand.
* No proof or declaration provided which shows that reviewers are independent of ACC.
* Referring claimants to specialists time and again to obtain specific formal diagnosis favourable to itself and manipulating reports and quoting wrong legislation to specialists to ensure that happens.
* Ignoring or being selective about medical reports and diagnosis favourable to the claimant.
* Implied and explicit threats in telephone calls and correspondence.
* Failing to properly comply with the Official Information Act and Privacy Act forcing claimants to rely on the over-burdened Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner to try and set things right.
* Minimising injury or occupation in Individual Rehabilitation Plans and internal documentation between employees and people ACC writes to about the claimant.
* Unhealthy readiness, almost an eagerness, to discontinue compensation payments based on flimsy evidence.
* New Code of Claimants Rights has no sanction against the employee while the claimant is made to suffer financially and by mental stress through negative or perverse decisions and by being demonised by ACC staff in internal ACC correspondence.
* Lack of consistency in decision-making and in applying the ACC legislation and court decisions across ACC branches.
* Staff failing to observe or be aware of the principles of natural justice contained in the NZ Bill of Rights Act.
Scoop understands the 18 March "Day of Shame" is starting to generate interest for a Parliamentary Inquiry from the business, farming, fishing and transport communities, particularly small and medium business operators, who face increased fuel costs later this year because of Government and ACC policies.
Scoop has also
been told that political parties who have been calling for
an inquiry into ACC over recent months will also be involved
on the day. Local and regional news media across the country
are also starting to carry stories.