Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ACC to cover birthing injuries

Nearly 50 years since ACC legislation was first passed, birthing parents who are injured during childbirth will be covered by ACC, the Government has announced.

“This is an incredibly important day for birthing parents, with the passage of this Bill representing a significant step towards improving gender balance, fairness and equity in the Accident Compensation Scheme,” said Minister for ACC, Carmel Sepuloni.

“On 28 September 2021, I announced that we would be amending ACC legislation to cover more injuries experienced by women during childbirth. Less than a year later, we’ve taken action to deliver a change that’ll benefit an estimated 28,000 birthing parents per year,” she said.

“This followed on from an article I read about the growing number of women experiencing injuries when giving birth, and their struggle for treatment. It was a distressing read, but I instantly knew that this was something that needed to change.”

More than 70% of people giving birth in Aotearoa New Zealand may experience an injury during labour or birth.

It’s fair that these injuries, some of which can be severe, are covered by ACC, the Minister said.

“That’s why we’ve taken steps to ensure birth injuries are covered, making changes to the legislation and including a list of covered injuries. The list includes all injuries that result from the birthing process – from onset of labour through to the baby being delivered,” Ms Sepuloni said.

As is normal under ACC, follow-on injuries directly related to those listed will also be covered, including mental injuries caused by physical injuries. Other injuries which are caused by those listed will be covered by ACC, therefore birthing parents have no need to worry about further complications from a covered injury.

As a commitment to providing comprehensive cover, the list of injuries will now be regularly reviewed after it is implemented to make sure no birthing parent is missing out, said Minister Sepuloni.

Including cover for these injuries will mean birthing parents can access existing support and treatment available through the AC Scheme, including support for mental injuries that are caused by physical injuries, she said.

“The Select Committee’s consideration of the Bill has proved to be an invaluable step in this process and provided the opportunity for the list of additional injuries to be thoroughly tested.”

“I want to thank the Committee and stakeholders for their extensive work, which has helped to ensure the list of injuries is comprehensive, and for all those who have submitted on the Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters Bill – you have made the difference.

“The Government is laying the foundations for a better future by improving equity and health outcomes for women through amending ACC legislation, including taking steps to modernise ACC and make support more accessible to New Zealanders who need it,” Ms Sepuloni said.

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