30 Sep 2021

ACC admits backlog is delaying tens of thousands of client cases

6:26 pm on 30 September 2021

ACC is struggling to clear a month-long backlog of work, with some tasks more than seven months overdue, the organisation has told MPs.

ACC Building

ACC Building Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The backlog comes despite the agency introducing a new case management system designed to improve efficiency.

ACC made the admission in a written response to questions from Parliament's Workforce and Education Select Committee. The Committee was forced to submit them in writing after the government blocked a bid by opposition parties to hold ACC executives to account in person over the apparent failure of a $74million transformation of its case management system called 'Next Generation Case Management'.

It follows claims ACC staff were "dropping like flies" from heavy workloads generated by the new system.

In its written response to MPs' questions, published today, ACC said on average more than seven of its Assisted Recovery staff handled each claim, while there were just under 1.5 phone contacts per claim where a staff member had spoken with a client.

The Assisted Recovery team, which dealt with claims needing less attention, had a backlog of 41,767 tasks, ACC said. Some tasks, such as check-in conversations, were on average 33 days overdue, while other internal tasks were seven months overdue.

"Staff in Assisted Recovery can complete 6,000 - 7,000 tasks per day. ACC receives around that number of new tasks each day, making it challenging to decrease the overall number of tasks on hand," ACC wrote.

Only a quarter of emails were responded to within 10 working days, but all were actioned within 10 working days. "There is a plan in place to further improve email responsiveness, with a goal of all emails being acted on within 48 hours," ACC said.

The workloads were due to higher than anticipated claims being made, ACC said.

In the Select Committee's report, also published today, the Green Party raised concerns that ACC's new system had not achieved what it set out to.

"The Green Party does not believe that this achieves the intent of the next-generation case management (NGCM) to put clients' needs at the centre of the model and build a relationship between the client and ACC."

"While we acknowledge the impact of Covid-19, when ACC was planning the rollout of next generation case management, all of the indicators were that claim numbers were going to increase year on year by around 50,000. This is not out of step with actual claim figures and we would have expected greater resilience in the system," the report said.

The Green Party also said it was "extremely disappointed" that ACC had not reviewed how the new case management system was working for sensitive claim clients, after the Wellington-based Sensitive Claims Unit was disestablished in September 2020.

Sensitive claims were instead now handled by teams across eight different locations.

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