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ACC Announcement: A Tactical Response Plan is not a Plan

Robert Sellars, Physiotherapist. FCE Systems Ltd

ACC Announcement: A Tactical Response Plan is not a Plan

The first quarterly report for 2017/18 ACC announced an important intervention “We implemented a Tactical Response Plan following deterioration in the ten-week rehabilitation performance at the start of 2017/18. This remains in place and we believe continues to support improved performance.”

References to this Tactical Plan were included in the following three quarterly reports. In the 2017/18 Annual Report the ACC Chief Executive Officer, Scott Pickering confirmed these “tactical actions” and that he expected improvements later in 2018. However, the July – September 2018 quarterly report notes “A sustained national focus…remains active with specific tactical plans in place…” and “The benefit of these changes…has not yet improved performance.”.

In answer to an Official Information Request, ACC advised that the Tactical Response Plan (TRP) was not a formal plan or document and that it merely referred to activities to manage “various factors”. Because the TRP does not exist, ACC refused to supply information about the Plan even though the CEO said it does.

Since 2012 the Return to Work rate has been steadily deteriorating. Robert Sellars, a Physiotherapist with many years of vocational rehabilitation experience wrote to Judith Collins, Minister for ACC in 2012 advising that the ‘new’ Vocational Services contracts would not work and were too expensive. Ms Collins declined to investigate or intervene, as have all the following ACC Ministers including the current Minister, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway.

In attempts to improve rehabilitation effectiveness and the return-to-work rate, ACC have published over 40 interventions since 2012, none of which have had any effect. These interventions included “addressing the key interactions that our customers experience”, “Clients Service Optimisation Initiative”, “action plans”, “mapping”, “forward recruitment”, “tracking tools”, “robotics process automation”, and “focusses”

The TRP exists in name only, so it is likely that these other interventions did not exist either and were just names for the usual “activities to manage various factors”. This would explain the failure of any of them to achieve improvement in the RTW rate.

Following a 2016 announcement from ACC that the “Operations Leadership Team intended to be more strategic and bold”, a series of meetings with providers are being held in mid-February 2019 to investigate how to achieve better results. One of the suggested topics for discussion is “How do you communicate to the wider health/support team?” A ban on fake news would be a good start.


All Return to Work statistics and quotes are from the ACC quarterly and Annual Reports and from the OIA reply from ACC 18 January 2019.

The topic for discussion (provider meetings February 2019) is from the ACC document “Draft questions about Community Rehabilitation” page 3.

The OIA reply regarding the Tactical Response Plan is attached to this release.

Brief CV – Robert Sellars

Qualified as a Physiotherapist in New Zealand in 1971.

Founded a multidisciplinary Vocational Rehabilitation Centre in Adelaide 1991.

He has provided a range of contracted Vocational Rehabilitation services to ACC 1997 – 2012 and Functional Capacity Evaluations 1996 – 2018.

He has presented research outcomes at several conferences on aspects of physical assessment and rehabilitation, the latest in 2018 at the 4th International FCE Research Conference in Switzerland.


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