ACC is proposing to cut its medical advisors by 20 per cent and increase its psychology and allied clinical advisors in a proposed restructuring of its clinical advisory services released yesterday.

Lloyd  Woods, Senior Industrial Officer at the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), said the proposed cuts are equivalent of 20 per cent of ACC’s medical advisory staff.

The proposal is to cut the medical advisory team from 36.4 full-time equivalents (FTE) to 30 while increasing its psychology advisors from 16.7 to 19.2 FTE and its allied advisors (including nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dental, audiology and pharmacy) from 26.7 to 38 FTE. The overall  restructuring proposal – which includes disestablishing a large number of current positions and inviting staff to apply for new positions – will bring ACC’s total clinical advice FTE team up from 79.8 to 87.2 while cutting back the medical advisor section by 6.4 FTE.

An ACC spokesperson said the proposed changes were designed to provide more timely clinical advice for its case managers which in turn could lead to ACC clients getting quicker information about their claim, rehabilitation and recovery.

The restructuring document says the aim of the changes is to have a stronger focus on education and a “paradigm” shift from “siloed, single discipline advice” to “collaborative, multi-discipline support. And also a “strong culture change, from ‘advice only’ to being accountable for customer outcomes”.

Woods said ACC’s clinical services directorate had been invited to briefings on proposed changes that would see a significant reduction in the number of medical advisors. “It’s fair to say they’re gob-smacked by this flawed proposal, and dismayed by the potential implications if ACC goes ahead with it.”

ASMS represents most of the medical advisors employed by ACC and Woods said it would be working with members to reject the proposal.

Woods said  the ACC document cites concerns with rising claim volumes, changing claims mix with the aging population, and expectations from providers of access to advisors for the restructuring.

“Given these pressures on the service provided by medical advisors, it beggars belief that ACC would even consider a proposal to cut numbers,” said Woods.

“This would see some of ACC’s longest serving advisory employees losing their jobs, and it would represent a significant loss of knowledge and experience from the organisation. This would almost certainly have an effect on the outcomes for ACC claimants.”

The ACC spokesperson said medical advisors would have the opportunity to work on “complex, escalated queries that best utilise their skills and experience”.

“We want our Medical Advisers to be able to work in a multi-disciplinary team to collaborate so all facets of a client’s treatment and rehabilitation are considered at the same time,” he said.  He added that until a decision had been made and people appointed it could not calculate whether the restructuring would increase or save costs for the service but added the proposal was not about saving money.

“It is about better aligning our clinical model with the wider needs of the organisation as we look to improve customer outcomes.”



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