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ACC announces decision to reassess declined surgical mesh claims, dating back 15 years

ACC will be giving clients who have had a surgical mesh injury claim declined since 2005 the opportunity to have their claim reassessed.

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The Health Minister will hold forums around the country for those affected by the treatment. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after the restorative justice process commissioned by the Ministry of Health last year.

The Government organised sessions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for anyone affected by surgical mesh to share their experience, with the first of the forums held in July.

The stories shared through this process were independently analysed by a team from the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice, Victoria University of Wellington and resulted in the report Hearing and Responding to the Stories of Survivors of Surgical Mesh.

At the time, the Ministry of Health said it was committed to ensuring New Zealanders who've been harmed by surgical mesh are supported and their concerns addressed.

Surgical mesh, which has been banned in Britain, is used for the treatment of stress incontinence, which is a condition common after childbirth, and in some cases on men who are having hernia repair. 

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The Ministry of Health is adding more restorative justice forums to meet increased demand. Source: 1 NEWS

"We recognise the severity and impact of the harm on people with surgical mesh injuries and the need for us to improve our systems and processes," ACC chief customer officer Emma Powell said in a statement today.

"We have committed to taking meaningful action to improve the claims experience and health outcomes for those treated with mesh. This included looking back through declined surgical mesh claims to ensure that past cover decisions are consistent with the latest understanding of mesh injuries, and to look for opportunities to improve the experience of those who come to us for help."

ACC has formed a dedicated cover assessment team to help those impacted through the process.

"We know that going through the claims process and further clinical assessments may be difficult for some people, and we want to minimise any further trauma," Powell said.

The new cover guidance will be used to assess previously declined claims and any new surgical mesh claims, as well as helping registered health professionals understand ACC cover for surgical mesh injuries and when it might be beneficial to submit a treatment injury claim for their patient.

ACC advises anyone who wants more information or is interested in having their claim reassessed to contact the dedicated reassessment team on 0800 735 566, or email surgical-mesh@acc.co.nz.

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Carmel Berry of support group Mesh Downunder welcomes forums the Government will hold for people harmed by surgical mesh. Source: 1 NEWS