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Howard's End: What! Good Service From ACC?

Howard's End: What! Good Service From ACC?

By Maree Howard

The ACC is once again in the public spotlight but this time for all the right reasons which one claimant sees as a significant change in the adverse culture and mindset of the organisation. Maree Howard writes.

In what is being seen as a massive "sea-change" at the top levels of ACC, Chief Complaints Investigator, Toni Izzard, who is required to act independently of ACC, wrote to a claimant late last month telling him that she had spoken to him in th past about the futility of selecting certain pieces of information in an attempt to make a point.

She said "A selected sentence or phrase taken out of context does not necessarily provide a true and correct representation of what may have occured, nor provide the proper sequence of events."

Ms Izzard also apologised to the claimant for a dely in answering his complaint lodged last October under the Official Information Act which requires ACC to respond within twenty days or an agreement for an extension of time.

"I applaud her common sense approach" he said.

The claimant told Scoop last night that he was initially put out by the reply but following a discussion with his wife he realised that ACC has a number of other priorities and it takes time to review all the information in order to make the most accurate and appropriate response.

He said, "I think Ms Izzard's approach is terrific. Because I am not the only client my lawyer has, he also has to prioritise requests received from ACC. I would no longer expect ACC case managers to place unrealistic timeframes on him or any other lawyer or claimant and I look forward to her telling all case managers of this new approach."

Scoop has been receiving complaints over many months about ACC case managers giving as little as a two day notice to attend medical specialist referrals, sometimes in a distant city, and lawyers and claimants were being expected to reply to ACC correspondence or documentation within seven days under threat of having weekly compensation stopped if they did not.

This claimant had been waiting two years for recently-approved downstairs home modifications so that he would not have to climb stairs to use the shower at a risk of falling and further injuring himself which was happening on a regular basis. He wrote to Ms Izzard complaining about the way his case was allegedly being mis-managed.

Other claimants are still waiting for aids and appliances and some have had no rehabilitation at all despite being a client of ACC for some years. Apparently, rehabilitation must now be cost effective but that is a world-away from actually denying rehabilitation or stopping entitlements which some case managers are allegedly setting out to do.

Following exposure of the UnumProvident disability insurance fraud against claimants in the U.S., there are claimants who are also saying that ACC is defrauding them of their entitlements and that looks set to get very messy.

Ms Izzard's new approach might just be what ACC case management needs.

For the past 18 months, claimants have been complaining to Scoop and other media about ACC's selective use of medical reports, ignored medical reports, using parts of the legislation out of context and ignoring its purpose, putting-up brick walls, denying entitlements, ignoring or distorting facts in medical referrals and reports and relying on flimsy evidence as justification for stopping entitlements.

Ms Izzard is the independent ACC Chief Complaints Investigator and so is very likely to be the first contact for anyone with a problem. This new approach from someone high up in the organisation looks promising.

When contacted by Scoop and told of Ms Izzard's approach claimants were astounded and now look forward to Ms Izzard telling all ACC branch staff. They say it's been their experience that when medical files are sent to specialists or reviewers, selected sections are wrongly highlighted or used, wrong legislation is quoted, and relevant parts of reports are sometimes missing.

An ACC Support Group member told Scoop that providing a true and correct representation of what has occured, providing the proper sequence of events along with honest consideration has always been their wish, and that now looks set to happen across ACC branches.

© Scoop Media

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