A 75-year-old man battling a severe bowel injury asked ACC to fund a vehicle with toilet facilities, but was instead offered a bucket.

The man suffered the debilitating affliction after a cancer treatment nearly five years ago and now lives in fear of leaving his house.

"I feel like a prisoner. I just want some freedom to go hunting and fishing and see my family and mates when I want," said Norman, who didn't want to use his full name for privacy reasons.

With the support of his surgeon and lawyer, the Northland man filed an ACC claim for a vehicle with bathroom facilities - but it has been declined twice.

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Instead, in documents seen by the Herald, ACC offered him a "suitable bucket with a lid", which he can only use when he exits his car.

"The assessor advised he was not there to look at transportation options," the ACC report added.

ACC had also offered incontinence products such as pads or pants but Norman said he found the products uncomfortable and difficult to manage.

"He felt belittled and lost his dignity when he had to use 'nappies' and other similar products," the report said.

"I'm being forced to use a bucket on the side of the road," Norman told the Herald.

Norman's advocates believe ACC's response has been outrageous and wrong.

Norman now lives in fear of leaving his house. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Norman now lives in fear of leaving his house. Photo / Michael Cunningham

ACC lawyer John Miller said it was a criminal offence to urinate or defecate in a public place and a person could be fined up to $200 each time.

Being forced to do that was wrong, he said.

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Miller said a van with toilet facilities might be seen as expensive but the aim of ACC was to encourage maximum rehabilitation.

"If that involves a bit of expenditure then so be it," Miller said.

"It is no fault of his that he is in this condition; it's not age-related. This is in effect medical negligence that's put him in this position."

Norman's medical records, seen by the Herald, show his bowel injury - affecting his urgency and frequency to go to the toilet - was likely caused by radiation he had in 2015 to treat his prostate cancer, which has now been removed.

About four times a day he gets between 20 to 30 seconds warning before he needs to rush to a loo.

The injury, known as radiation procititis, has left him scared to leave his house and has dramatically restricted time he can spend with whanau and friends - let alone doing the activities he loves like hunting and fishing.

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Norman's bowel injury was likely caused by radiation he had in 2015 to treat his prostate cancer. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Norman's bowel injury was likely caused by radiation he had in 2015 to treat his prostate cancer. Photo / Michael Cunningham

He is unable to go anywhere without having a bucket and toiletries in case of urgent "bowel evacuations".

"It gets you down a bit after a while. You'd think ACC would do the right thing but it's like they can't be bothered," Norman claimed.

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Norman said the impact the injury had had on his life was huge and he craved freedom.

"People were celebrating getting out of lockdown after two months, well I've been in lockdown for nearly five years."

Five of his six children live overseas so he hasn't been able to see them since before his injury. He can't go fishing anymore and his travel is limited.

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"I just want my life back."

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An ACC spokesperson acknowledged this had been a frustrating process for the client but they never advised him to use a bucket on the side of the road.

"During an assessment carried out for ACC in May last year he told the assessor he was forced to use a bucket when driving for longer periods of time.

"The assessor discussed several options with him including the use of incontinence pads, medication to help control his bowel movements, and the use of a portable commode.

"[He] declined these options and requested a vehicle equipped with toilet and washing facilities."

They said Norman's case was reviewed again in February and a number of options were suggested - including input from a dietician and specialist rehabilitation - but he rejected the support again, requesting a vehicle with toilet facilities.

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"This request was declined because rehabilitation options were considered more appropriate and a vehicle of this type isn't the normal means of managing faecal incontinence," the spokesperson said.