Press Release: New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists
Tuesday 15th April, 2014
Yesterday’s District Court ruling, that the standard ACC release of information form the “ACC 167” is illegal, has been welcomed by psychotherapists and clinicians working with sexual abuse survivors.
“The Disley Independent Clincial review of the ACC’s treatment of Sensitive Claimants, undertaken in 2010, outlined serious concerns about this form and the ACC’s approach to the gathering of health information. This decision is welcomed, but long overdue” says Kyle MacDonald, New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists Public Issues spokesperson.
The Disley review included a legal opinion, which noted concerns about the ACC 167, and explained the limitations that apply to the collection of health information. Those working with all ACC claimants, and specifically in the sexual violence sector, have long expressed these concerns.
“We’ve known for a long time that this form, and it’s implementation, has caused specific problems for sensitive claimants” says Kyle MacDonald, “it has been common practice for the ACC to request ALL of a claimants GP or Mental Health notes, and not accept a health professional acting in accordance with the Privacy act by providing only those parts of the record relevant to the claim. Furthermore the ACC have quite explicitly declined to advance a claim if individuals refuse to sign the waiver due to quite legitimate privacy concerns.”
This has set up a perception that ACC have gone on “fishing expeditions” for reasons to decline claims, rather than sticking to the limits of the Privacy Act, like all other health professionals are required to do.
“Hopefully this decision allows people who have had their claim declined due to the illegal acquisition of health information to have their claim revisited. It should also allow those who have had their claim declined due to their refusal to sign this form to also re-apply for cover and treatment.”
Finally at last vulnerable sensitive claimants will have some better law protection from the scu practices of writing to all and any institutions for extensive mental health information. They provide standard cover for PTSD, yet take all full and complete records under the guise of the ACC167 that are far wider than the cover they provide for PTSD. Perhaps these claimants can request the illegally obtained information now be ‘destroyed’. Then of course the issue arises that you refer to Kyle as to how they use this extensive information that they illegally obtain. I have also seen scu practices where they use the ACC167 saying they are investigating ‘loss of earnings’, the claim has been declined under s(103) and they swipe all medical and clinical files. Sensitive claimants beware – the staff at the scu are out to get your back! This ruling highlights one other area they are acting illegally in with the blessing of the Privacy Commission and the HDC.