[Sitting date: 21 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3218. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
KEVIN HAGUE (Green) to the
Minister for ACC: Can she confirm that staff in ACC’s Recovery Independence Service teams receive more or less remuneration dependent on whether the proportion of people receiving weekly compensation is less or more than specified duration targets?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister for ACC)
: I have today been advised that within the performance framework for the Recover Independence Service team there is a component related to net entries to the long-term claim pool. I have also been advised that the component related to that number was approximately 15 percent of how a case-managed performance is measured. If a case manager performs well against the other 85 percent of their targets, they may still be entitled to a performance-based pay increase.
Kevin Hague: What is the clinical basis for these targets, if any at all?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I do not think I can answer that, because it is very much an operational issue, but I can say that ACC has advised me that it uses specialist, independent vocational rehabilitation services and clinicians to help people return to their pre-injury occupation wherever possible.
Kevin Hague: Does the Minister accept that having a financial incentive to terminate claimants’ compensation is likely to make case managers more inclined to terminate compensation for more claimants?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: If the member wants to put it like that, I can understand why he would be concerned. But we can look at it another way, which is a financial incentive to help people get back to independence and get back to work. I would say that was probably a good thing.
Kevin Hague: What safeguards, if any at all, are there to ensure that staff financial incentives do not lead to clinically inappropriate decisions to terminate compensation?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am advised that ACC uses the specialist, independent vocational rehabilitation service and clinicians, that these people are independent, and that that is quite different from the case managers.
Kevin Hague: Is she aware that the rates of successful challenges of ACC decisions continue to rise in both the decision review process and the District Court, and does she agree that that is indicative of something badly wrong in ACC decision-making?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think what it does indicate is that Dispute Resolution Services is clearly quite independent of ACC, as is, obviously, the District Court. There may well be instances—and I have asked ACC previously—where it believes that there are too many decisions being reversed on the basis that someone is clearly making the wrong decisions, the wrong call. ACC tells me that these decisions are made by independent clinicians. Actually, I think it would be a bad thing if for every dispute that was sent to, for instance, Dispute Resolution Services, ACC was upheld. That would tell me either that the service was not independent or that nobody was actually checking to see whether or not people can work.
Kevin Hague: What other ACC staff or contractors have financial incentives to deny claims or reduce compensation or rehabilitation services to ACC claimants?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I do not have that information.
Kevin Hague: Has she now received enough information about ACC’s disastrous claims management processes to ask the Auditor-General to bring forward her investigation of ACC’s claims management processes?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have not actually received enough information to do that. I am aware that the Auditor-General is undertaking her review, and I am prepared to wait for that review.
Kevin Hague: I seek leave to table a document. It is a document from ACC in response to an Official Information Act request from a member of the public. It sets out the key performance indicators for staff in the Recover Independence Service teams.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Andrew Little: What incentives are there under the ACC performance framework for Recover Independence Service staff to ensure that ACC meets its statutory obligations in relation to treatment, compensation, and rehabilitation?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have been advised by ACC that the performance framework relates 10 percent to performance against organisational goals, which clearly would include what that member has just asked; 10 percent against team goals, again; 30 percent against organisational values, which are clearly those matters he has raised; and 50 percent against personal goals. The 50 percent of personal goals includes 25 percent case-management quality, 10 percent customer service, and 15 percent net entries to the long-term claim pool.
Andrew Little: How effective is the new regime for vocational rehabilitation, which is intended to assist some claimants to return to work, or to recover their independence, given that there is a new layer of administration to pay for, called lead providers, and front-line service providers are complaining of being paid less and spending less time with claimants?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am sorry, could the member repeat his question? I did not catch all of it.
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member, please, to do that.
Andrew Little: How effective is the new regime for vocational rehabilitation, which is intended to assist some claimants to return to work—namely, to recover their
independence—given that there is a new layer of administration to pay for, called lead providers, and front-line service providers are complaining of being paid less and spending less time with claimants?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have been advised by ACC, when I have been around visiting its offices, that what has been necessary is to actually bring in lead providers to maintain the quality of assistance that is given in terms of the claimants, because before they had a large number of providers and very little ability to supervise the quality. So it has been, I think, cut down to about six lead providers, and that seems to be working quite well.