© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Calls for action from ACC

Elizabeth Robinson
wheelchair 1629490 960 720
wheelchair  Google Images

Long wait times for help, fighting for weekly compensation, getting pushed back into work, and left feeling like just another case; the reality for some New Zealanders battling with ACC. 

Michele McCormack, 63, was thrown against the wall in the September 2010 earthquakes, prolapsing a disc which is still causing her pain today. 

She said it took ACC four years to get her the MRI scan she needed and resulted in her to no longer be able to have surgery to fix it. 

The pain radiates down her leg, causing her to have trouble walking and standing for long periods of time. In return, the qualified nurse had trouble finding work. 

"They see this injury and think that I won't be able to do the job."

 

53806376 10156321396100945 1320524713478324224 n
Michele McCormack Michele McCormack

Although ACC was prompt in accepting her claim, she said it took too long for them to take proper action. 

McCormack said the MRI showed her naturally-healed prolapsed disc, which was sitting on the nerve root causing pain down her legs. She believes if the MRI was much earlier, she would've had the surgery she needed and no longer have the same pain 10 years on. 

Her injury continued to interfere with her day-to-day life and ACC no longer supported her claim. 

Rachel Carlyon, 29, had a similar experience. After breaking her foot in 2019, ACC paid for x-rays, moon boots and physiology appointments. After the surgeon recommended orthotics before surgery, ACC refused to cover the cost and said it wasn't part of the injury. Carlyon is requesting a review.

"It's just stressful when they turn around and do that to me and I'm sure to others too," she said. 

Carlyon has to take daily medication to help with ongoing pain and will never be able to enjoy long hikes again. 

Other people, who wish to remain anonymous, said ACC gave little empathy to their situations. They had to fight for weekly compensation, and the mental toll and stress left them wondering what was going on.

ACC said all of the information regarding customer satisfaction, wait times, and how decisions are made can be found on their website. 

82 percent of complaints this year were about customer service, weekly compensation, and access to support, and their website states: 'We listened to your feedback and we're making changes to streamline the way we work. This helps us to be more customer-focused and give you a better and faster service'.

Changes include a new specialised payment team, clinical and technical guidance for recovery teams, and continued listening to public feedback. 

Between 2018 and 2019, ACC accepted over 2million new claims, 97 percent of which were accepted.