ACC's Culture of Claimant-Blame

ACC under the Microscope
Nov 2002

It is increasingly being revealed through the Sunday Star Times and ACC claimants, that the culture within ACC is often one of assumed guilt of fraud by claimants.

The new ACC Code of Claimant Rights reflects this culture and goes against the democratic ideal in New Zealand of "innocent until proven guilty". It smacks of a culture similar to that within Inland Revenue before Rodney Hide exposed it. The ACC attitude is even worse as it attacks injured people who have frequently been harassed at work by employers, and who are often in severe 24hr pain. Furthermore, ACC doctors and assessors are usually anything but sympathetic.

Following is the brief submission in rtf (rich text format) sent in by some WebOOS members to Minister of ACC, Ruth Dyson, protesting at some aspects of the so-called "Code of Claimant Rights." (We call it the "Code of No Claimant-Rights"!)
Download consultation submission

Lawyer in Dunedin speaks out about ACC medical assessment abuse ....Read the article, Otago Daily Times, October 21 2002

A large group of people are complaining about ACC tactics and have a message board for this purpose.
If you wish to put up a poster from the ACC Victim Support group, here it is! (it's in doc format, 26KB). Slap it up in prominent places for everyone to see. Join in with discussions because there is no other way to achieve change.

We have heard that 18 people have committed suicide because of ACC's treatment towards them. A barrister who attended a meeting between a claimant and case manager said that even criminals were not treated so badly. This is unacceptable and must be stopped.

Doctors put ACC bullies on blacklist

Article from October 13th Sunday Star Times -

The ACC Scandal

Many OOS claimants have been denied justice when it comes to the facts concerning their injuries. If it's not the ACC case manager who does the dirty, it's the ACC contracted assessors, including many contracted doctors.

Recent news in the Sunday Star Times, Scoop and Otago Daily Times has highlighted the plight of some of these people. It has been reported that 18 people have committed suicide over the treatment they have received from case managers who have a heart of stone and a mind on their financial rewards for obtaining "results".

So what's wrong with the system?

• Instructions to get "rid of the tail" come from the top and are aimed at people whose injuries have maimed them for life.

• People who are clearly injured at work are not getting compensation. They are being refused at the outset but, strangely, some are covered for pain relief. So why, we ask, are these same people not being covered for financial compensation? Apparently, it's because the injuries did not "happen at work". From the cases presented to us, we would have to say, "Rubbish!"

• In many instances, ergonomic inspections are not being carried out in the workplace where the injuries occurred. This should be ACC's first obligation.

Are you on ACC?
You may soon be part of an experiment

News August, 2002:
ACC claimants may become guinea pigs for "pain injections"
Article from Scoop

This could lead to a contravention of human rights because under the ACC legislation you cannot "unreasonably" refuse any treatment without losing your entitlements. Furthermore, it reveals the entrenched and ongoing policy of ACC to force injured people to "work through the pain" by giving pain injections. The idea is that if you have enough pain relief you can be forced into the fulltime workforce because of the latest fashion that "it's only pain". Umm... but what about those who will be further injured by this? And what about those who spend the night in excruciating pain after a day of working under pain sedation? Who will ensure this doesn't happen?

Our advice: remember that word "reasonable". It can be used for or against you but it's part of the law. NEVER give up your right to refuse treatment, no matter how hard you are pressured. If you're not happy with having certain treatment, DON'T HAVE IT! Under human rights and health and disability law, you must be fully informed AND give your consent to treatment, including experimental medicine. Yes, it's hard to stand against bullying, many of us know that, but if you don't stand up for yourself you will end up even more distressed than if you give into it.

A thought: what happens to ACC case managers who end up with severe disability?

Ruth Dyson, Minister of ACC
- What are her plans for ACC?

Ruth Dyson's plans for people with disabilities (yes, people with OOS are disabled.)
There are good things in this speech but there's one huge thing which Ruth forgets in this speech which promotes Mark Bagshaw, IBM marketing manager. It's this:

Many people with disabilities do NOT have the ability to perform to the level of fully abled people. Their physical disablement and the fact that they are often in huge amounts of pain, prevents it. The comments in this speech appears to assume that these problems are miniscule. They are not. The idea that disabled people can perform to that same level is quite simply, ridiculous. Also, it puts a huge burden on disabled people which is unfair and unhelpful. Mark suggests that disability NOT be treated as a welfare issue. Highly impractical, Mark.

We'll be watching Ruth carefully in the next few months. It's reported that she has a huge pile of complaints from ACC claimants on her desk and has not actioned them. Why, we wonder?

Scoop's article about ACC.
Ruth Dyson admits that the ACC's agreement with the minister requires numbered reduction of longterm ACC claimants. But what about those who are still disabled by their injury? Well, as Minister for Disabilities, Ms Dyson is committed to ensuring that even the disabled are fully employed. That's fine, as long as it is not turning New Zealand into a virtual concentration camp where even those severely injured, disabled or in severe pain, will come under a politically correct enforcement of disabled-employment government policy.
Furthermore, as the article points out, isn't this attitude and/or policy against ACC law?

Lianne Dalziel's Address to ACC Symposium, August 2, 2002.
This speech was made whilst Ruth was still associate minister of ACC. She is now completely in charge of the portfolio. In this speech Lianne talks about "the tail" and "knee cap" and other phrases ACC claimants are very familiar with. A highly interesting speech and we invite your comment!

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Doctors blacklist some ACC case managers

Min of ACC, Ruth Dyson, protests

Protests to govt about ACC reviews - Maree Howard's article in Scoop, October 29 2002

Employers unsafe workplaces subsidised by employees - from NZ Council of Trade Unions.

Bullied Down Under - New Zealand.


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