Changes to acupuncture treatment

Ngā whakahoutanga mō te rongoā ā-ngira
Acupuncture in action

We’re changing the way we fund acupuncture services to help achieve the best outcomes for injured New Zealanders.

We are making changes to the way we purchase acupuncture treatments, so clients get the most benefit, based on the latest clinical evidence. 

From 15 December, the number of treatments funded by us will change from 16 treatments over 52 weeks to 12 treatments over 12 weeks from the client’s first appointment with their acupuncturist.

Those who need extra sessions can still receive them if a request, supported by clinical evidence, is made by their acupuncturist to ACC. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis for ACC clients with a mental injury, serious injury, and those who’ve recently had surgery, where evidence shows there’s benefit to longer-term treatment.

ACC's Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. John Robson, says the changes to acupuncture funding are part of ACC’s ongoing commitment to use research and evidence to ensure it provides services that support the best health outcomes for injured New Zealanders, to help them get back to independence as quickly as possible.

“We know that many injured New Zealanders benefit from acupuncture for a range of conditions, including short-term musculoskeletal injuries, mental injuries, and longer-term serious injuries."

This change will mean all our clients can receive the greatest benefit from acupuncture as part of their rehabilitation journey.
- Dr. John Robson - Chief Clinical Officer, ACC New Zealand

Dr Robson says to inform the decision, ACC commissioned a wide-ranging and comprehensive evidence-based review of international research and studies into the effectiveness of acupuncture for musculoskeletal conditions.

Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture Interventions for the Treatment of Musculoskeletal Conditions

“Most studies considered in the review supported the use of acupuncture to reduce pain and improve outcomes for these conditions in the short to medium term (6-12 weeks)."

"This was reviewed by a cross-sector expert reference group who helped us understand how the evidence applied to ACC and to New Zealand."

“Through research and focus groups with clients we also heard that our clients most often use acupuncture in the early stage of their recovery, to treat pain and inflammation. This is supported by our data which shows around 80% of clients receive short to medium term treatment.

“All of this has led to our decision to change the way we fund acupuncture services, to help achieve the best outcomes for injured New Zealanders.”

Those who have already started or are part-way through their treatments on 15 December will have their limits reset to zero and will be funded for a further 12 treatments over 12 weeks, starting from their next appointment.