12 Aug 2014

ACC again faulted over complaints process

10:06 pm on 12 August 2014

The Accident Compensation Corporation is launching another review of how it handles complaints, despite multiple reviews over the past six years that have failed to fix its process.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost. Photo: OFFICE OF AUDITOR-GENERAL

In a new report released on Tuesday, Auditor-General Lyn Provost says the corporation needs to vastly improve how it deals with complaints and there are significant issues.

The report includes a survey of 242 complainants, which shows only 22 percent of those people were satisfied with how ACC dealt with their complaint.

Ms Provost said significant issues include a need to better equip staff with the skills, knowledge and tools to handle complaints.

This includes better awareness of the Code of ACC Claimants' Rights. Other problems identified included a lack of consistency throughout ACC's complaint system.

Read Auditor-General's report on ACC

The Auditor-General made several recommendations for improvement including define, record, and respond to complaints appropriately and consistently throughout the organisation.

ACC's chief executive Scott Pickering says the poor report is being taken seriously and a new, independent review would fix things.

Mr Pickering told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Tuesday that ACC would carry out the Auditor-General's recommendations.

"I'm not happy at all ... We can do and we will do a lot better. I am absolutely personally committed to ensuring that we get this right."

He said he would ensure that an international best practice is established for dealing with complaints.

"I've also given a real commitment to the Auditor-General to invite the Auditor-General's Office back once we have implemented the recommendations to ensure that we're carrying them out to the right standard."

Cynical processes, says lawyer

Hazel Armstrong, a compensation lawyer from Wellington says another review by ACC is not what's needed.

"You don't need another review to explain to the senior management team what to do - it's all there. And I think the Office of the Auditor-General has done a good job."

Ms Armstrong told Checkpoint the report shows that the ACC board is to blame.

"They only put complaints on their agenda for three percent of the total time that they're talking, and I think it's a board direction that they're looking at - money in and money out. They've set up processes that are quite cynical to get people off the scheme."

The board's chairperson and the ACC minister should be the focus, she said - not the chief executive.