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Independent review of ACC needed

Independent review of ACC needed

Nick Smith’s acknowledgement that problems were caused by changes to how ACC deals with sexual abuse victims highlights the need for an independent review of all changes made to ACC since National took office, the Green Party said today.

“An independent review of the changes is needed to ensure ACC is doing its job and not re-victimising 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 and the review, released today, confirms the changes were a disaster, with victims of rape and sexual abuse being denied essential care and unnecessarily.”

Since late 2008 ACC Minister Nick Smith has introduced 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.

“Given that the panel has found major flaws in this area of changed procedures, the public can have no confidence that the other changed procedures have been handled any better, unless these are also reviewed independently,” Mr Hague said.

Mr Hague said recent revelations that the new approach to sensitive claims had been based on work by Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith. ACC commissioned Dr Goodyear-Smith to provide advice on a number of occasions and then, according to the Sunday Star-Times, attempted to cover this up.

Dr Goodyear-Smith has a history of involvement with the Centrepoint community and held controversial views about sexual abuse. ACC’s former General Manager of Health Purchasing, David Rankin, confirmed over the weekend that ACC had known about this at the time, and that an expert panel of clinicians had recommended against Dr Goodyear-Smith’s recommendations.

Mr Hague said he suspected that cost cutting was the motivation for the changes despite Rankin and ACC’s denial.

“The only possible explanations for the poor decisions that have come to light so far are that ACC has a sick culture, intent on cost-cutting through disentitlement, or that the organisation’s systems have failed to the point that catastrophic errors of judgment can occur.

“The New Zealand public deserves a thorough and independent review to determine the source of these problems and ensure that a fix is put in place, in which we can all have confidence.”

LINKS

Sunday Star Times story
http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/4069062/Conflicting-interests
Previous release calling for inquiry
http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/independent-review-acc-changes-needed
Release from Nick Smith about review
http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister+welcomes+sensitive+claims+clinical+review

ENDS


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