PM backs ACC staff

John Key. Photo Getty
John Key. Photo Getty
Prime Minister John Key is backing the way ACC staff, paid bonuses to reduce the number of long-terms claimants on the corporation's books, have handled claimants.

The Green Party has criticised staff practices at ACC after documents revealed staff were paid bonuses for getting long-term claimants off the corporation's books.

But Mr Key said today he didn't believe it was right to say ACC staff's approach had been driven by money rather than client welfare, Newstalk ZB reported.

"But obviously motivating staff to make sure they've got that boundary right and that those that can actually go back into work do go back into work is very important to the long term affordability of the fund."

ACC's use of a quota system was revealed in agreements it signed off with the Government - it made a commitment to get rid of thousands of long-term clients.

Senior managers at the corporation reportedly spoke about their success at cutting long-term clients from the books at a conference in Australia.

In June 2010, then-ACC minister Nick Smith and ACC chairman John Judge signed a three-year agreement that stated as a "priority" that the corporation would get rid of 1150 long-term clients a year. It had 13,157 clients when the service and purchase agreement was signed.

Labour's spokesman Andrew Little today called for ACC Minister Judith Collins to appoint a high-level panel to review the corporation

He said a thorough investigation was needed into how ACC manages long term claimants, in light of the revelations.

"We need to see a panel made up of a senior lawyer, possibly a judge, a senior medic, possibly a professor of medicine and a senior public servant to go through how decisions have been made," he said.

"Seeing the numbers who have been removed from ACC's cover and hearing from a few of those affected, there are real questions about the legal and ethical basis for some of these decisions," said Mr Little.

"The issues are legal, medical and administrative and must be resolved if the agency is to regain credibility."

- Kate Shuttleworth

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