Sufferers seek changes to 'unjust' ACC system

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 05:00 06/11/2012

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A Cambridge multiple sclerosis sufferer has backed calls by Labour ACC spokesman Andrew Little to remove an "injustice" in the no-fault scheme by extending it to cover incapacity caused by illness or disease, as well as accident.

Melanie Trevethick, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1996 and is now restricted to a wheelchair, took on a fight with the Government eight years ago when she discovered there was no assistance when she needed to buy a $92,000 wheelchair-friendly vehicle.

By contrast, an ACC victim would receive full payment for the vehicle, which costs up to $110,000.

"I hate injustice within our health system and my desire to see it end will never fail and I fully agree with what Mr Little has to say."

Ms Trevethick never won that battle, but yesterday said she was buoyed by Mr Little's comments.

"All I want is for New Zealanders who suffer serious illness to be entitled to the same level and quality of care as people who suffer an injury," she said.

New Zealand needed a levied health system that covered everyone regardless of the cause of their condition, she said.

"Our health system would be far better off for it and we wouldn't have waiting lists for desperately needed surgeries."

Mr Little is also calling for Labour to dump the fully-funded model, which sets levies to cover the future cost of current injuries.

In a speech to a conference looking back on the 1972-75 Kirk Labour Government, Little said it was time to consider what to do about the inconsistent treatment of those incapacitated as a result of an accident and those incapacitated as a result of disease or illness.

"It's more than an inconsistency. It's an injustice."

He said the debate in the late 1960s was closely linked to the question of social security and the responsibility of the community to ensure everyone was provided for.

"That would be a different debate today, not just because the size and shape of our social security system is of a magnitude unlikely to have been contemplated at that time, but because we also have a popular discourse that increasingly demeans and devalues those who, because of life's misfortunes, find themselves dependant on a welfare payment."

It might now be time to dig out some old petition pages and hit the streets again, said Ms Trevethick. "This has to be the way forward for Government."

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- Waikato Times

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