ACC doctors

Phil Kitchin reports at Stuff:

is spending millions of dollars flying doctors around New Zealand to assess long-term clients who have already been assessed by other doctors.

The policy has been slammed by John Miller – one of the country’s top lawyers specialising in ACC legislation – who said the so-called “independence” of some assessors was a sham.

ACC lawyers, advocates and claimant groups know those doctors as “hatchet men and women”, Mr Miller said.

I’m not to keen on the airfares, but I do think there is a place for independent assessors, and in fact if you ask many GPs, they will say they find it useful to have them also.

The reality is that it can be very difficult to ascertain how genuine some injuries such as back pain is. And the local GP can come under huge pressure from patients whom they see on a regular basis to give them the benefit of the doubt. They will often say they doubt the symptoms but can’t prove it.

The independent assessors don’t have to maintain a long-term relationship with the person, so  don’t get pressured so much into giving the benefit of the doubt so to speak.

Now I am sure there are some independent assessors who are too harsh, and there is a danger they get into a mindset of refusing all claims. But I would be very wary about anyone who advocates with doing away with the entire system of independent assessors.

What I would be interested in is data on each assessor (not named) and how often they disagree with the original assessment. That data would show you if some are being too zealous.

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