27 Oct 2021

ACC chairperson urged to change organisational culture following privacy breaches

2:36 pm on 27 October 2021

ACC needs to urgently change how it operates in light of recent privacy breaches, work backlogs and clients' battles to get support, an open letter to the agency's new chair says.

ACC logo

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

It comes as RNZ reported today that ACC call centre staff shared details of clients' injuries, and mocked them, in a private Snapchat group. ACC has stood down 12 staff while it investigates the matter.

The Green Party, with significant support from the health and welfare sectors, has today written the letter to Steve Maharey, who took over as chair last month. Cosigned by 27 organisations and individuals it calls for "major internal changes to the way ACC operates."

"ACC was originally established over 50 years ago to support people with a no-fault basis, but this is far from what it delivers today," Greens spokesperson for ACC Jan Logie said.

"Today's reporting provides evidence of a pattern of breaches of privacy within ACC, which suggests urgent changes are required to organisational culture and practice in order to safeguard personal and medical information. Public confidence in ACC is crucial to the continued provision of care and support to New Zealanders."

"The reports over the last several months of privacy breaches, extensive backlogs, and the traumatising battle just to get support shows the agency is letting too many people fall through the cracks."

The Green Party is also calling for an urgent debate in Parliament today on the ACC privacy breaches.

Logie said there were immediate steps that could be taken, including reviewing the sensitive claims process, limiting staff access to private medical records and claims, and investigating if ACC's focus on driving down costs had adversely affected wellbeing outcomes for women, Māori, Pasifika and disabled people.

"We urge the chair to review the procurement model for rehabilitative treatment so that they focus on the whole of the person and not just the specific manifestation of the injury," she said.