Campaigner hails inquiry

Denise Powell
Denise Powell
Dunedin ACC campaigner Dr Denise Powell has hailed the Auditor-general's decision to investigate controversial ACC-related issues not already in the spotlight as part of a separate inquiry by the Privacy Commissioner.

The latest investigation follows continuing public debate over the ACC board's handling of claimant and former National Party insider Bronwyn Pullar's claim.

Dr Powell, who is the president of Acclaim Otago, a support group for ACC claimants, welcomed the latest inquiry, including its suggested inclusion of wider ACC "case management" issues, and the Auditor-general's decision to also consider "any other matters" thought desirable to report on.

Some of the matters Ms Pullar had earlier drawn to the ACC board's attention over her own case - such as a requirement to undertake scores of medical assessments after an earlier significant injury - clearly raised key issues about ACC procedures, which were of widespread concern to many other ACC claimants, Dr Powell said.

The inquiry by the Auditor-general, Ms Lyn Provost, is the second major probe into matters around the handling of Ms Pullar's claim and the massive breach of privacy that occurred when the corporation mistakenly sent her the details of 6700 other claimants in August.

Ms Provost announced yesterday she would carry out an inquiry into how the ACC managed risk at the organisation's board level.

Last month, concerns had been raised about a "significant breach of privacy" by ACC and the interaction between ACC and Ms Pullar, the Auditor-general said in a statement.

The Auditor-general had decided to inquire into aspects of ACC's governance that would not be covered by other inquiries already being made by the Privacy Commissioner and ACC board.

ACC became aware of the privacy breach only in December, when Ms Pullar met senior managers in a meeting brokered by chairman John Judge following Ms Pullar's approach to board member and old friend John McCliskie.

Ms Provost said that approach and how it was subsequently handled would be part of the focus of the inquiry.

Dr Powell hoped the Auditor-general would be able to consider concerns voiced by many people over ACC's two-tier procedure for handling VIP claims, after an Otago Daily Times story on the subject early this week.

Dr Powell is also a member of ACC's Consumer Outlook Group, an official liaison body which brings together claimant and community representatives and ACC senior management.

Group members had already asked to discuss privacy issues and she had yesterday formally asked for the VIP claim-handling matters to also be considered at the Consumer Outlook Group's next meeting, in Wellington on April 23.

- Additional reporting The New Zealand Herald


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