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ACC specialists fees reveal huge doubts about independence

13 September 2012

ACC specialists fees reveal huge doubts about independence

Evidence that ACC is paying some medical specialists up to half a million dollars a year, an average of up to $1666 each client, reveals huge doubts about the independence of some of the corporation’s favourite doctors, the Green Party said today.

“I have documents showing ACC paid some of its top specialists up to $500,000 a year for between 300 and 500 clients,” Green Party ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

“The enormous volume of work and the huge fees paid to these specialists suggest they have been well and truly wrapped up in ACC’s processes for delivering its goal to ‘target the low hanging fruit’ – the people with long term injuries.

“It would be totally unacceptable if the corporation was using doctors it can rely on to deliver assessments that meet that target.

“ACC has a well-established and clear goal of exiting people from the scheme and it is crucial that medical assessments are seen to be truly independent.

“It seems little has changed since Judge Trapski’s damning 1994 report that found, in the case of one favoured ACC specialist, that he’d been used over the years as ACC’s “hit man.”

“Trapski warned then that ACC’s medical assessors need to not only function as independent specialists but must be seen to be independent.

“Favouring a select group of specialists whose medical opinions appear to favour ACC’s agenda is not being seen to be independent.

“The huge fees paid to these assessors, combined with the extremely high rate that ACC’s decisions on long term claimants are overturned at review, reveals real concerns about the fairness of their decisions.

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“The ACC Minister must urgently enquire into the appointment of these specialists, and instruct her new board to devise a way to appoint truly independent assessors.

“In answer to my questions in the House today the Minister seems to share our concerns and be determined to actually achieve independent assessments.

“An option would be to bulk fund DHBs to provide a rolling roster of specialists to provide ACC assessments in their region, or contract with professional colleges to ensure the assessments are independent,” Mr Hague said.

Data received through OIA on the payments made and workloads of ACC assessors: http://www.greens.org.nz/misc-documents/data-received-through-oia-payments-made-and-workloads-acc-assessors

ENDS

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