ACC clients ‘swamp-dwellers’ under new policy

Tuesday, 16 February 2010, 3:46 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

ACC clients renamed ‘swamp-dwellers’ under new tough love approach

Injured New Zealanders will be appalled by the culture change taking place at ACC which has been advised to be less ‘customer-focused’ to begin ‘draining the swamp’ of ACC clients, says Labour’s acting ACC spokesperson Maryan Street.

‘The information is contained in two reports released to Labour under the Official Information Act, as part of its Government-directed ‘Value For Money Review’ and explains why increasing numbers of injured New Zealanders are suffering extremely shoddy treatment from the corporation and being declined cover they are entitled to.

 “The reports, prepared for the new ACC board last year, say ACC had ‘moved too far towards customer focus’ and needed to begin ‘tightening the gateway by reducing the level and costs of treatment provided – especially rationalising the range of services available’.

“Perhaps the most disturbing example of the callous new approach however is the phrase used in the Morrison Low report to the ACC board which talks about the need to ‘significantly cut back to essential and core (services) – effectively draining the swamp,” Maryan Street says.

“So ACC staff are now being encouraged to view ACC clients as swamp-dwellers? It’s not only offensive, it’s a very disturbing example of the type of culture now pervading ACC.

“And what happens if staff fail to adopt the new ‘tough love’ approach (another phrase being used)? The reports make that clear. If they don’t turn down enough claim applications they will get the sack.

“One report says ‘there is a need for ACC to adopt more business/insurance-like behaviours…this may mean changes in the staffing and skills mix’ and ‘the introduction of stronger performance management mechanisms’.

“These reports raise serious questions about exactly what is going on at ACC and what staff are being directed to do. The public has a right to know how the ‘gateway’ is being tightened and exactly what services ACC staff are now being instructed to refuse to provide.”