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ACC Changes Long Overdue

ACC Changes Long Overdue

ACT New Zealand ACC Spokesman Heather Roy today said that, while changes were needed in ACC's assessment of medical misadventure, the faults with the system should have been addressed sooner.

"For too long, there has been an incentive for patients to find fault with the performance of our medical professionals. A separation of guilt and compensation, and a fairer system of medical misadventure assessment, is long overdue," Mrs Roy said.

"Under the current system, the claimant is expected to prove fault by a health professional - who then had to be found culpable in order for compensation to be awarded. This provided a tempting financial incentive for a patient to prove that their health professional had erred.

"This is unacceptable - there should be no such incentive - and changes are needed to ensure that anyone seeking medical compensation does not do so frivolously.

"The fairest, most efficient way to do this would be to establish an insurance-based scheme, which should be open to competition, including involvement from the private sector. This would ensure that, while deserving patients are compensated, our health professionals are not left open to illegitimate claims.

"The Government has dithered over funding of a new scheme. It has today said that any changes would still be borne by the taxpayer - even though any changes it is likely to make will end up costing more than the present system.

"This raises serious questions about the likelihood of an increase in the level of claims. The Government has said that the costs of medical misadventure will still be borne by workers - does this mean that earner premiums will rise? Labour recently increased earner premiums from $1.10 to $1.20. I am seeking an assurance from the Minister, on behalf of all workers, that this premium will not increase further.

"Labour must publicly prove that is working in the best interests of both the patient, and the medical professional. Any changes to the current system must not open the floodgates for just anyone with any kind of medical dissatisfaction to seek compensation. The system must not be abused, it must work only for those with legitimate cases," Mrs Roy said.

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