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Independent review of ACC changes needed

Independent review of ACC changes needed

The urgent u-turn on sexual abuse counselling strongly suggests that all changes ACC has made to its cover, entitlements, and assessment criteria need to be independently reviewed, the Green Party said today.

“An independent review of the changes is needed to ensure ACC is doing its job and not causing re-victimisation of accident victims,” Green Party ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

“The changes made to ACC’s sexual abuse assessment procedures are the first to be assessed independently the review confirmed the changes were a disaster.

Since late 2008 ACC Minister Nick Smith has introduced many other wide-ranging changes to ACC cover, entitlements and assessment criteria.

These include narrowing the criteria for approving surgery, restrictions on cover for hearing loss and work-related gradual process injuries, and widening the vocational independence assessment criteria under which ACC decides to stop paying claimants weekly compensation.

“Like the sexual abuse counselling changes that have now been partially reversed, many of these were not supported by any evidence,” Mr Hague said.

“For example, a series of written questions to Dr Smith made it clear he had no idea how many vocational independence assessments were being made and no data around how many people were being refused compensation.

“This tinkering has resulted in many New Zealanders being denied treatment, surgery or counselling that they previously would have received under ACC.

“We need to apply the same scrutiny to the other changes.” Mr Hague said that lowering costs to ACC raised the costs on an already overburdened public health system. “Accident victims and their families are not receiving the treatment they need. “The ACC model guarantees the essentials and is the envy of the Western world. By changing the procedures we risk decades of successful accident practice being thrown out the window.”

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