ACC making little progress on sensitive claims - report

By Kate Shuttleworth

ACC Minister Judith Collins. Photo / Ross Setford
ACC Minister Judith Collins. Photo / Ross Setford

The number of sensitive claims approved for compensation by ACC has dropped dramatically, an independent report has found.

The independent monitoring report of ACC's management of sensitive claims, prepared for the ACC board by mental health expert Barbara Disley, was released today.

It assessed the progress ACC had made in meeting 14 recommendations made in Dr Disley's original Sensitive Claims Clinical Pathway review in 2010 on how to improve services to victims of sexual assault and serious violence.

The report said that the corporation had made "excellent'' progress in one of the recommendations, good progress in another two and the remaining 11 were either needed work or reported limited progress.

It also showed a large drop in the number of sensitive claims accepted, along with a decline in the total number of claims lodged.

In 2007 nearly 6000 claims were lodged. Some 3991 were accepted and 1928 were declined. By 2012 only 49 claims were accepted.

Ten per cent of claims were accepted in 2010; 4 per cent in 2011; and 4 per cent in 2012.

In the first six months of this year, 1026 claims - 80 per cent of those lodged - were put on hold.

ACC Minister Judith Collins said today the corporation was making good progress on the 14 recommendations but would not comment on the number of claims on hold or the decline in approved claims.

Since the review, all people who make a claim to the sensitive claims unit, regardless of whether their claim is approved, are entitled to 16 support session with an ACC-approved professional.

ACC general manager, claims management, Denise Cosgrove said the number of claims approved had dropped because many claimants found the 16 sessions were enough and their claim did not proceed to an assessment for compensation.

Labour Party ACC spokesman Andrew Little said a dramatic drop in the number of accepted claims suggested there was something wrong with assessment procedures.

Green party spokesman Kevin Hague said it was unreasonable for so many claims to be put on hold.

"Leaving 80 per cent of claims in limbo is completely unacceptable. The Government and ACC have created a culture of severe disentitlement when it comes to sensitive claims.''

Kyle MacDonald, NZ Association of Psychotherapists spokesman and a member of the sensitive claim advisory group, gave ACC a "fail mark'' for its progress on the recommendations and called the decline in accepted claims from 40 per cent to 4 per cent a "horrifying number''.

A woman who has made a sensitive claim, who did not want to be named, said she was outraged by the decrease in the number of claims accepted.

"Things have not improved.''

She said sensitive claimants were poorly served and misunderstood.

Year - claim - status:

2007 - Held: 0, Declined: 1928, Accepted: 3991 - Total claims lodged: 5919

2008 - Held: 0, Declined: 2313, Accepted: 3540 - Total claims lodged: 5853

2009 - Held: 0, Declined: 2995, Accepted: 2-62 - Total claims lodged: 5057

2010 - Held: 0 Declined: 191. Accepted: 403 - Total claims lodged: 3112

2011 - Held: 115 Declined:100, Accepted: 135 - Total claims lodged: 3782

2012 - Held:1026, Declined: 250, Accepted: 49 - Total claims lodged:1325

- APNZ

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