UK-trained Dr Ecclestone has significant clinical and decision-making experience with surgical mesh, both in the UK and New Zealand.
Prior to moving to New Zealand last July, she worked with the pelvic floor multidisciplinary team at St Mark’s Hospital, London, the largest such team in Europe. She was a member of the regional mesh multidisciplinary team for North London.
These experiences, and the fact she is new to New Zealand so has no vested interest from having submitted mesh cases, make her an “independent pair of eyes”, she says.
ACC chief customer officer Emma Powell says the panel will review the first 10 claims submitted for reassessment that ACC proposes stay declined, as well as any new surgical claims ACC proposes to decline.
The panel will provide independent comment on ACC’s decisions in the context of the Accident Compensation Act 2001 and of the new guidance, developed with medical experts and based on latest medical evidence and understanding of surgical-mesh injuries.
“ACC recognises the severity and impact of surgical-mesh injuries and we are committed to a fair and transparent reassessment process,” says Ms Powell.
After the first 10 claims have been reviewed, ACC will meet with the panel members and Mesh Down Under to discuss whether the panel continues to be involved with the process.
Ms Korte says their involvement should continue for the entire reassessment process; this is what mesh-injured people are expecting.
As to the outcomes of reassessment, Ms Powell says some claims declined in the past may now get a different decision based on the new guidance.
However, as each claim is assessed based on individual circumstances, it is difficult to know what change there might be in the claim-acceptance rate.
From 1 July 2005 to 31 October 2020, there have been 1735 surgical-mesh claims lodged. Of those, 1361 have been accepted and 374 declined.
After the reassessment opportunity was announced on 28 October, there were 85 claims received up until 22 February 2021. Of these, 17 have been accepted and the rest are still being investigated.
The most recent data from ACC shows there have been another 198 new claims of mesh injury receiveded up until 22 April, where 81 have been accepted, eight have been declined or withdrawn and the rest are still being investigated.