Establishing an independent ombudsman to deal with ACC issues
would restore some of the corporation's lost credibility and
public goodwill, Dunedin ACC campaigner Dr Denise Powell
ACC decisions can be appealed through a statutory review
system and the courts, but complaints, made under the Code of
ACC Claimants' Rights, can also be referred to ACC's Office
of the Complaints Investigator (OCI).
ACC's internet site states the OCI ''provides a free and
impartial service'' and ''actively resolves concerns about
ACC, focusing on enhancing the relationship between ACC and
Dr Powell, who is president of Acclaim Otago, an Otago ACC
claimant support group, said the credibility of the
investigator's office had been reduced among many ACC
claimants because it was not fully independent. Earlier last
year ACC Minister Judith Collins emphasised the need for the
ACC board and management to ''rebuild'' public trust.
She also wanted ''more disputes resolved satisfactorily''
without the need for formal independent resolution.
ACC figures indicate long-term national claimant numbers fell
by more than 3600 or 25% to about 10,626 over the past three
financial years. And long-term claimants fell more than 15%
in Otago over the past financial year, to 1014 on June 30
last year. Government officials had earlier highlighted the
need to trim excessive ACC costs, but critics say many
long-term claimants were ''exited'' unfairly, and many had
had ACC coverage restored on appeal.
Dr Powell said that appointing an ombudsman would show ACC
had ''a genuine desire to address issues of concern''.
It was also in ACC's interests to show it was ''thinking
outside the square'' and trying to ''identify new ways of
An ombudsman could not only help individual claimants, but
also help resolve issues which also concerned many others,
such as long-running problems with the ACC 167 consent form,
A recent major review, initiated by the Privacy Commissioner,
highlighted problems with the excessively broad nature of the
form and noted the need for stakeholder input.