More birth injuries will be covered by ACC, the RNZ understands.
It came when the Green Party, with strong support from the health sector, wrote an open letter to ACC Minister Carmel Sepuloni, pressing for the agency to cover all birth injuries and traumatic deliveries.
Under current ACC policy, only birth injuries sustained through a treatment injury would be covered.
But the government had been under pressure to make changes after RNZ revealed that the number of women successfully claiming ACC coverage for perineal tears dropped sharply after a policy review last year.
Previously, ACC accepted about 30 claims per month, but that was reduced to less than four per month after the review.
Change was imminent, Sepuloni said.
“The government has now considered the issue and will make an announcement before the end of the month.”
At open letter The Green Party, Jan Logie, said that an urgent change was needed.
“I ask that you prioritize changes so ACC can cover all pain and suffering caused by traumatic deliveries and birth injuries.
“Right now, most birth injuries are not covered by ACC, and ACC data shows us that in recent years it has become more difficult to cover birth injuries.”
Help coping with birth injuries and traumatic deliveries was one of the “hidden needs” of new parents that were not being addressed, Logie wrote.
“It is completely unfair that the ACC cover is available for an ACL tear on the rugby field, but almost impossible to get for a perineal tear after giving birth.”
The letter was publicly supported by many organizations, including the New Zealand College of Midwives, the Maori Women’s Welfare League, ACC Futures Coalition, and academics Dr. Naomi Simmonds and Dr. Michelle Wise.
Under the law, the ACC could only cover birth injuries if they were treatment injuries. Perineal tears were the most common birth injury for those who delivered vaginally, and about 85 percent of the women experienced some degree of tear.
While all birth injuries were treated by the public health system, there were often long waits to access treatments or see a specialist. By comparison, ACC coverage could include access to private specialists, salary compensation, in-home support, and counseling.
ACC revised its perineal tear policy in 2020 after realizing it was more generous than allowed by law, resulting in a significant drop in the number of tears covered.
Maternity professionals consulted by ACC during its perineal tear cover policy review opposed any changes, and both the NZ College of Midwives and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urged the agency to reconsider. your position.
Birth injuries could be “debilitating” for new parents and the lack of coverage was due to the ACC’s interpretation of the law, said NZ College of Midwives Executive Director Alison Eddy.
He was pleased to know that changes could be made soon.
“What concerns us is that these injuries are often difficult for women to treat and that help must be available to them regardless of how they access it.”
RNZ understands that the expanded coverage for birth injuries, which will require amendments to existing law, was just one of several wing changes for ACC to be announced soon.