At last, an independent review - Physiotherapists
1 November 2006
New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists
At last, an independent review, say relieved physiotherapists
Physiotherapists responded with relief when a review of ACC funding for physiotherapy services was announced. "At last, after years of underfunding by ACC for services which are vital to injured New Zealanders!" said Kirsten Davie, spokesperson for the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists (NZSP).
"The ACC fees are too low for many physios to keep going," Ms Davie said, adding that if ACC doesn't increase its fees, physiotherapists will continue to go overseas for better opportunities, or drop out of the profession. The New Zealand-wide shortage of physiotherapists will then get worse, meaning that increasingly, people will not be able to access physiotherapy services when they need them. For example, the Physiotherapy Department at the Napier Health Centre has had to close due to lack of staff.
Ms Davie commented, "The time is long overdue for ACC to pay physios a fair and reasonable fee for their services to injured New Zealanders."
"Since physiotherapists are the main group of health professionals helping patients recover from injuries, we want to build a firm partnership with ACC, so that together we can advance the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders," said Ms Davie. "In such a partnership, it would be unthinkable for ACC to pay fees too low for physio practices to keep going."
Ms Davie explained that a large part of physiotherapists' work is with injured people, assisting them back to health and independence. Physiotherapists therefore rely very much on the fees paid by ACC. Recent changes to ACC fees, after 17 years without any increase, don't come close to the rise in the consumer price index over that time.
The NZSP "Blue Letter campaign" just before the general election last year resulted in thousands of letters to politicians from physiotherapists and patients, calling for a review. Peter Brown of New Zealand First then strongly supported a review, which became part of the New Zealand First Confidence and Supply Agreement with New Zealand Labour.