ACC service 'a step in the right direction'

Denise Powell
Denise Powell
ACC'S proposed navigation service is a "step in the right direction'' but more resources are needed, if the corporation is to restore its public credibility, ACC campaigner Denise Powell says.

ACC plans to fund what it terms an "independent service intended to support ACC customers'' in accessing ACC services, and with their ACC claim.

It could be challenging for some people to deal directly with ACC, so a "helping hand from someone who understands our systems and processes'' could help achieve a "good outcome'', ACC said.

Dr Powell, who is spokeswoman for Dunedin-based claimant advocacy group Acclaim Otago, welcomed the idea of a navigation service to help claimants navigate complex ACC systems.

This approach could help with simple queries, and resolving some issues before they resulted in reviews or court appeals.

But more clarity about exactly what was involved was needed, and this was not the full advocacy service that ACC claimants needed.

Claimants were likely to be expecting a freely available and "much more in-depth service'' and people could potentially "feel let down'', she said.

Dunedin lawyer Warren Forster, who undertakes research on ACC issues, said it was positive that ACC was acknowledging the need for navigation help, but full independence was needed.

It had been proposed to fund the new service with about $1.5million but "it should be increased to $15million'' to meet likely demand levels.

ACC claimants needed support to help dispute adverse decisions through the review process, but the proposed service would not meet that need, he said.

He recently wrote to ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway saying there were issues with ACC's approach that might require his attention.

ACC spokesman James Funnell said the new service aimed to "help minimise concern and inconvenience for clients by helping to resolve issues before they get to the point of a major complaint investigation or formal review hearing''.

ACC would "closely monitor'' the service and if demand was greater than expected "we will of course consider additional support and funding''.

ACC clients could choose to access this service, but would also continue to receive help from their case manager, or via ACC call centres, and there were "specific complaints and review handling functions'', he said.


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