May 19, 2010

ACC - Clinical Pathway to Lala Land

Like a few people I imagine, I'm pretty much playing "catch up" on thee ole ACC  saga. Sure, I saw the protests on TV some months back and yeah, I've heard rumbles from some about the "hideous" recommendations, but I never really thought more about it until I flicked through emails sent to me by another member. 

Within two days of sifting through her copious emails I was livid. She's not a reporter but she sure as hell could give some of our current ones a run for their money. She's a nurse, a psych nurse, and she's deadly passionate about the changes not only in the legislation but in the effect it's having on those close to her. This is a woman who entered into the health profession with a sense of pride and today, she's "gutted" by her own health professional's unethical decisions. In short, she feels ashamed of them.

In order to understand her a little more, she needed to speak to me like a five year old, running through all the acronyms for healthcare providers - some of which, I personally would have thought twice about joining for that sole reason. Patient as she has been with me, I now know that the RNZCGP is the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners. Whoop-de-do, I hear you say, and they are what exactly? I'm not going to go into a commercial for this organisation for a number of reasons - it's late, I'm a tad frazzled, and I'm not one of their most fondest advocates at the moment. Suffice to say, this is like the group you join if you were a builder and wanted a few initials after your name to add credibility to the work you provide. In brief that is. In any event, it's usually regarded as a highly professional and ethical body of health professionals that, until recently, had the welfare of not only New Zealand patients in mind but that also of their members. 

Now that is where we start to come a little unstuck. You see most the members of the College opposed the "inhumane" changes proposed by the Government regarding ACC. However, the Dr Pert (apt name) sent a rather impulsive and badly written press statement, on behalf of the College, claiming they supported these changes. Now, if you read it with a fine tooth comb, if ever that were possible, you'd see that the College was "actually" agreeing with the Massey University research and moreover, the recommendations those researchers put forward. So far so good, right?

Wrong. The initial study document and the 'butchered' information ACC selectively extracted from that report is what now makes up the infamous 'Clinical Pathway Guidelines.' It's nothing like the original but the names of both the original document and the resulting guidelines are so closely linked that people, like me, start to glaze over.

The end result is, the College "Does not" support the guidelines ACC have enforced even though their hasty press release some months prior claimed they did. 

It is this wonderful fudged press release that Nick Smith sleeps with at night. He must be thanking his lucky stars that Dr Pert (who signed the release) was to say the least, not pert enough that morning because, from behind this date stamped release, Nick can now bat his eyelashes and plead ignorance to their opposition and (as is the case) drag the whole thing out in Parliament for months on end.

Once the wrangling over which 'actual' document the opposition are referring to and Nick Smith resentfully conceding, we might be able to get onto some more worrisome details of that press release. Like, who actually wrote the damned thing in the first place? Now I know I mentioned Dr Pert but I was careful to add that he merely signed it.

Sources say the actual author was Dr Peter Jansen.

Stick with me folks. Dr Peter Jansen has a medical history as long as my arm, Specializes in Maori health, apparently. Like I said, this profession is not my forte. In any event, what he use to do is irrelevant. He is now the senior medical adviser for ACC. He's the one that's been prancing around New Zealand "showcasing" his new Clinical Pathway Guidelines. The one that's completely ignored the number of health professionals that walked out of their annual conference in protest of these changes and his absolute refusal to halt the process until.. gee, let me think, some actual real live health professionals have a say in what's "Best practice" for their patients. Okay, so he's the bad guy right.

At the risk of sounding like an info-commercial - wait, there's more! Mr Bad Guy is also on the RNZCGP Board! Now, isn't that a little like 'swinging both ways?' He's on the Board of a health profession that are passionately opposed to what he's doing at his daytime job. And he was also the one who wrote the original press release that Nick Smith has framed on his office wall.
How stupid is this College? I mean, I've heard about keep your friends close but your enemies nearer but isn't this taking things a little too far? Surely it's unethical for the College to have the bad guy on their Board let alone writing press releases supporting causes they oppose.

So what has the College done about this? Nothing! Not a brass razoo!  Where is their press release categorically refuting these changes, you know, something written by someone who 'isn't'  pro-ACC? At the very least you would have thought they'd have expressed their regret and/or apologized to their members. Yeah, you'd think, right.

So anyway, while all this is paper pushing is going about in Parliament - with today's meeting being no more different and moving nothing forward - victims, genuine health professions, advocates, lawyers, protesters, and me are sitting here completely baffled about the blatant corruption surrounding this issue and moreover, Nick Smith's slimy answers to questions he's too terrified to answer.   

I motion to table ...ah, to hell with it. Mr Speaker, pass me that ruddy staff of yours. I'll do it myself!

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