ACC sends wrong file to claimant

Last updated 05:00 10/04/2014
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ACC client Gordon Haugh was accidentally sent another ACC claimant's confidential records.

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A Gore paraplegic has received confidential documents about an ACC claimant in another privacy blunder by the organisation.

Gordon Haugh broke his back when he fell off a hedge in 2008, and has been dealing with ACC since.

On February 19 this year, Haugh received his independent support plan by mail, which he said also contained the confidential ACC 5956 Job placement - plan, progress and completion report of another claimant.

The report identifies the other claimant and outlines their work history, career goals and attitudes towards current employment.

The Southland Times has sighted the file sent in error and has chosen not to name the person whose confidentiality was breached.

Haugh, 45, a fitter and welder before his accident, said he was distressed by the situation and kept the document in a locked briefcase for the two months.

"I just want rid of it. It's actually caused me a lot of stress. I get chronic pain and this hasn't helped," he said.

Knowing that the breach was a highly sensitive situation, he contacted an ACC lawyer, who advised him to speak with The Southland Times

The public needs to know these breaches are still happening, Haugh said.

"I really feel for this guy because I should never have seen this . . . I had never really wondered about my privacy but I do now."

Both ACC clients are handled by the same case manager at the ACC Central Otago, Alexandra branch.

In March 2012, ACC faced scrutiny after releasing the private and confidential details of 9000 claimants to Bronwyn Puller, an individual claimant.

ACC specialist lawyer Peter Sara said the latest privacy breach was an example of "sheer carelessness", particularly after the organisation said it had improved the security of clients' information.

"I do wonder if it is all just PR spin despite all these said extraneous precautions."

Sara said the message he had received from his clients indicated they were concerned for their own privacy.

"They do not want this to happen to other claimants, but they also feel like they can't trust ACC to protect their own privacy and information," he said.

The Southland Times provided ACC with details of the claimant whose confidentiality was breached, including the name, form type, provider name, claims manager's name, ACC office registered on the form and the date the form was completed.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said, based on the limited information provided by The Southland Times, the organisation had directly contacted the person whose privacy was breached.

"It is regrettable if this error has occurred, but ACC is also disappointed that we have not been contacted directly [by Haugh], so have been unable to retrieve the information or investigate how this happened in order to provide the affected person with the fullest amount of information."

The Southland Times will provide ACC with further information today.


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