Is there a doctor in the house?

25/03/12 Update: This blog post has been edited from it’s orginal after legal counsel for Dr. Dodwell expressed concerns about the impact of this blog post on his ongoing professional reputation.

Today’s announcement that ACC has managed to send information about 9000 6000 clients, including allegedly 250 137 Sensitive Claims clients, has been described as “the biggest privacy breach in New Zealand’s history.” (Dominion Post, 13/03/12)

So is this a “simple” administrative error, as is being claimed by ACC? Probably, but only due to a system that is haphazard enough to allow it.

Do they seem to have any understanding of the impact upon Sensitive Claimants of this breach of trust? It doesn’t seem so.

And does this seem like yet another symptom of a sick organizational culture, one that denies the rights of New Zealander’s and shrugs it shoulders when it’s asked to explain?

Well there is little doubt that this is a horrific breach of many peoples right to privacy. The spreadsheet containing information on thousands of clients names, claim details and outcomes of their review processes was sent to the client in August 2011. ACC were alerted in December and only now seem to only be responding to this due to it having been made public by the media.

The initial flurry of media attention on the breach of privacy has been understandable and necessary. But I have been captured by another piece of information mentioned in the story. It has been alleged in the same Dominion Post story today that:

“The [ACC] board was given an example of a branch medical adviser who covertly communicated with an ACC assessor providing false information to manipulate a medical report in ACC’s favour.” (Dominion Post, 13/03/12)

However as recently as last week:

“ACC chairman John Judge has told Parliament’s transport and industrial relations select committee there has been no pressure on ACC staff to do anything other than what is right.” (Radio NZ National, 01/03/12)

So what is a Branch Medical Adviser? Well they’re doctors who are hired by ACC to provide expert opinion and medico-legal oversight to claim managers about claims and treatment decisions. They hold a significant amount of power within the internal ACC system.

This online forum post suggests that the current Branch Medical Adviser for the Sensitive Claims Unit is currently one Dr Peter Dodwell. Dr. Dodwell seems to have an interesting employment history. This report from the Sydney Morning Herald outlines how Dr. Dodwell was dismissed from his role of Chief Medical Officer of Healthquest, an agency which provided medical assessments of New South Wales state employees.

I would certainly not wish to suggest that the Branch Medical Adviser mentioned in the Dominion’s story is Dr. Dodwell.  However the overall picture is certainly not one which inspires confidence…

So how do you treat a sick organization? Well like any treatment, you start with a diagnosis. And then you treat. But we may need some new doctors for that. I certainly wouldn’t want ACC’s doctors treating me.

And it would be unethical to expect them to treat themselves.

Leave a Comment

  • barbara March 13, 2012, 11:03 pm

    Once again, as in the privacy breaches which had been notified to ACC some months ago, there are several sensitive claimants that had expressed their concerns about the appointment of Dr Peter Dodwell as the BMA to the SCU and what was the response – NOTHING.

    Toxic and sick is what they are and the SCU should be shut down – as it should have been a long time ago.

  • Beth Webster March 13, 2012, 11:12 pm

    Well surely more of us need to understand better, more about the complex negatives of having to be seen and treated by ACC assistance…
    The pains and social rejections that too often accompany such a need,can lead to so much inadquate understanding by others – who may or not be in a position to be helpful, rather than just blindly judgemental…Assurance of confidentiality protection is usually help enough, Leaking bits of such pain, make enduring trust rather disappear….
    Let’s be more easily understood, eh..

  • David Wadsworth March 13, 2012, 11:38 pm

    It seems to me that Ralph Stewart (CEO) and Sir John Judge (Chairman of the Board) of ACC are more concerned about the negative publicity has on ACC as a corporate body than the negative impact on claimants. A couple of weeks ago Judge was having a go at the NZ Herald for its reporting of surgery funding decisions (subsequently found to be a flawed process by ACC’s own internal investigation and on Feb 3 Stewart sent out a moral boosting email to “ALL ACC staff” about the negative publicity of Diane Smith story of the same day -

    That story has seemed to set off a chain reaction of negative publicity, reflecting a build up of a culture that has developed over years, in my honest opinion.

    At what stage does Stewart and Judge (appointed by the Government) decide that instead of their intended role (presumably National’s henchmen) of reducing ACC’s liability by a wholesale attack on claimants decide that the wholesale attack has to be on its senior management that has allowed this perverse culture to exist. And how does this fit in with National plans to privatise the Work Account. What a disaster!

  • Jenny March 14, 2012, 7:44 am

    It seems to me that this is a unit which has supreme authority to destroy sensitive claimants lives – I should apply for a role to find out if they issue hob-nail boots with steel-caps as part of the uniform required. I am recalling a time in the late-1930’s to mid-1940’s when it was better to comply than suffer the consequences, which were suffered anyway. Is there any difference between ACC and particularly SCU and the regime of that time? I think ACC RELY UPON the sensitive claimants not saying anything because we don’t need the world to know about the abuses we have suffered – the SCU preys upon the very conditions which make us sensitive claimants.

    Stewart is worried about the negative impact upon ACC? Sorry I just spat my coffee … he is worried that his six figure salary might dissolve. No-one at ACC cares about the client, never have, never will. It is so far removed from what it was originally intended to be that only drastic change at the government level will restore it. And that will never happen.

    We need to have the right to sue returned – otherwise it is like trying to fight a criminal matter in the disputes tribunal. It just can’t be done for any satisfactory conclusion.

  • AJ March 14, 2012, 11:34 am

    I am concerned that a government department doesn’t know how to handle sensitive information. It should not all be collected together in one spreadsheet and it should certainly not be emailed as an attachment. ACC’s IT department should be working much harder to make sure that the technology is used to keep information safe. ACC should also be educating its staff about how to handle electronic data. The fact that they think they have “retrieved” the information shows that they don’t understand how easy it would have been to replicate and disseminate it. What’s more, the contents of the spreadsheet could obviously be viewed without a password. Surely one of the most basic things you do with a document containing such sensitive data is password-protect it or encrypt it! It is frightening that the SCU is run and staffed by muppets and I am not surprised that many claimants are feeling retraumatised.

  • kea March 14, 2012, 12:27 pm

    The focus of your post cuts through the smoke and mirrors of what has proved to be a peak event for ACC. It seems that the real issue within yesterdays revelation that 6000 clients have had their private information divulged to a third party revolves around the criminal activities of ACC employees.

    As you note in your comment, senior officers have been covertly changing legal documents; documents arising from assessments that ACC constantly require claimants to go through, even though they are destructive to the claimants condition and form part of the legal documentation of a claim under the Act.

    This point seems to have been missed by the main stream media in the hoopla over the unsurprising and typical breach of confidentiality by ACC. ACC apparently was aware of the breach several months ago so has this leak been conveniently timed to hide the real issue here within the more easily explained information breach.

    I have in the last three weeks needed to take an ACC decision to review due to suspicion of exactly the reasons mentioned in this press report. In fact I have had pre-court hearing settlements of cases that I also suspected had been manipulated.

    These covert activities are serious and need to be investigated by an independent and recognised inquiry.

  • Unicorn March 14, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I really dont believe they will contact EVERYONE on the list. Theyre not that honest are they! Ive had 2 reviews in the last 12 months – both of them involved my sensitive claim, and I havent been contacted yet…I am laying a complaint with this Ms Shroff to see whathappensnext…

    One of the branch medical advisers is Dr Kevin Morris, a former employee of our equivalent of WINZ in Australia (probably a patriotic chum of Dr Dodwell?). He has a dubious link with HDC – a particular employee named Simon – who keeps Dr Morris informed regarding ACC claimants who try to get satisfaction regarding ACC Designer Medical Reports and other breaches, via HDC. Of course after simon discusses the HDC breaches with Dr Morris – your request for investigation via the HDC just flies right out the window. Yes I have proof!!

    Another Medical Adviser is Dr Rosie Fenwick – She is the abortion surgeon at Wellington Hospital, and is favoured among parliamentarians. She does some of these Designer Reports for ACC. Imagine Dr Fenwicks mental state – as she goes to work each day to earn excessively high income in her role as executioner/murderer of humanities most vulnerable people – the unborn people. Just like James Bond ay – A license to kill. Anyway she is definately not mentally stable!! Full of lies and deceipt this one – as of couse she’d have to be I suppose. Obviously extremely hardened and calloused in her heart – youd have to be, to be able to do her daily job huh! She does IMA reports as a sideline – Designer ones – for ACC. Of course anything Ive said above is my opinion and belief – other than the stuff I have proof of!

  • Unicorn March 14, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Each time ACC have a
    report done – there are errors. I fix these errors and then send the
    corrections (including the original reports) back to ACC. They tell me
    that my corrected version of events recorded on the reports are
    submitted alongside the incorrect original reports. It would be
    interesting to see if they actually do this – as they say they do (I know they dont!).
    eg A Psych report – there is a typo where the typist wrote 3 hours
    rather than the actual 3 days. It causes me huge problems while having
    assessments done coz the assessor doesnt have the corrected version –
    just the original typo version – and theres a big difference between 3
    hours and 3 days captivity!

    eg At my IMA with Dr Rosie Fenwick she shouted at me “heaps of girls
    get gang-banged. Get over it!” But you see, a 3 day captive rape
    situation, is not a 3 hour gang bang is it? She treated me in this
    disgusting manner throughout the assessment, and I believe it was
    because she had deliberately been fed the wrong information, and had
    an ACC agenda.
    She also shouted at me “Holocaust victims get over it – so get over it!”.

    • katarina March 15, 2012, 12:24 pm


      as you know holocaust victims don’t get over it, sadly they often pass the horrors onto their children thus creating further victims.

      as claimants maybe we also do this!

      by the way, do you know what was released

      watch acc cover this up, the media are losing interest

  • Unicorn March 15, 2012, 10:30 am

    I would really liked to have done the survey that I have just noticed at the bottom of this page – but I didnt know about it until just now!

  • Unicorn March 15, 2012, 8:41 pm

    I Think very soon the government will put a media ban on anything negative regarding ACC….You know try to cover up the corruption. Corruption would have to be the diagnosis here.
    I think some ACC staff will be making claims for compensation for taking abuse from the claimants – maybe PTSD. They will also be taking some of their excessive stress leave. Its bound to be stressful working with the devil.
    I think ACC claimants will not recieve anything more than the usual hollow apologies they always get from ACC. I know theyre hollow, coz they keep repeating the same behaviour that they had to apologise for in the first place.

  • Mike April 15, 2012, 6:31 am

    My wife who is a victim of Family Incest and 1/3 of her Family Rapist’s have been convicted thus far. )
    ACC – SCU contact rules for my wife is that, they must send her a letter so she can prepare herself ( as she can’t alway’s say “No” to talking about her past which is of course stressful to her ) and it must be a Female Case Manager who speaks to her.
    ACC – SCU phoned my wife, while she was pregnant ( without informing her first by letter, by a Male Case Manger at SCU.)
    Within 10 minutes of the SCU phone call my wife was trying to commit suicide.
    When I phoned the SCU the next day, I recorded the conversation, and the Male Case Manger apollogised for there error, as did his Female Supervisor at the SCU.
    9 months after the incident my wife left our new born daughter with her Step Mother who was the one who set up my wife to be Raped by her Step Mother’s – Father.( and my daughter ended up in Starship after being choked/strangled by the Step Mother – My daugher survived and is OK )
    For 7+ years now, ACC has denied this event ever happened, by claiming under the Privacy Act ( they can’t deal with me or my daughter about this issue on a direct basis ) as my wife doesn’t want to deal with them ( ACC – SCU ) ever again.
    The Government Ombudsman has told ACC – SCU they must investigate with there own Internal Investigator – but two years later we are still waiting and they don’t want to engage in helping my wife and daughter.
    Is ACC or it’s SCU answerable to anyone when the “Cluster FU** UP” – it seems not.

  • katarina May 11, 2012, 9:39 am

    looking for detail of the time period – some reports state July 2010 – June 2011. Can anyone advise what period the information covers

    kittyhawk (katarina)

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