It is official; the controversial regime introduced by the Government which means that all medical reports for whiplash must be done through the Medco system has been launched.
As of now, all whiplash and other soft tissue injury claims caused by road traffic accidents will have to be diagnosed by registered medical professionals contracted by MedCo in a move the Government feel will further enhance their battle with fraud within the industry.
No longer are claimants afforded the luxury of choice when it comes to the doctor that examines diagnoses and reports their potential injury. From now on they either have to choose a medical expert or medical reporting organisation from the options given to them on the MedCo website, or withdraw their claim.
The system will be split into two tiers with one provider being chosen as the top tier and a further six providers making up the second tier options.
The top tier medical experts or MROs will be expected to deal with 40,000+ medical reports on a yearly basis and as part of the application process to be accredited by MedCo they were forced to prove this.
How will this all work? Well, the idea is to break off all financial ties between the medical experts used for whiplash diagnosis, the claimant and the solicitors who are supporting them, with the view that it will bring down fraud levels.
The Law Gazette confirmed today that the biggest existing medical reporting companies, Doctors Chambers and Bodycare Clinics have submitted two applications to become top tier providers.
There will not doubt be a rush by potential users of the service to get their applications through and they have been warned that this process could take between five to 10 days to go through before they become authorised.
It was also revealed that the high volume MROs will be charged at £75,000 a year to become members of MedCo. Other MROs will be expected to pay £15,000 and individual experts can expect to foot a bill of £150 to become members.
The independent chair of the MedCo board, Lorraine Rogerson, said: “We would encourage users to sign up at their earliest opportunity to minimise any internal disruption to their service whilst we process their registration”
“We are also encouraging users to familiarise themselves with the entry criteria in advance to ensure registrations are approved first time round.”
There has been some criticism in the lead up to Medco being unveiled, not least from the claimant solicitors, who claimed that the limitations brought about by the new regime, were an infringement on the claimants’ human rights.
Scott Rees and Co Partner, David Byrne, said: “Obviously there is very little we can do now but wait and see what sort of impact MedCo has on genuine claimants and their ability to get the compensation they deserve.”
“By rights people should be able to choose the medical expert they wish and feel comfortable with instead of being manipulated by a limited choice of alternatives. There is a real question over whether or not this new regime infringes basic human rights. Time will tell whether or not this can have the desired effect the Government are search for to further the removal of fraud from within our injury.”
“The future is an anxious place for the personal injury solicitor and for the genuine claimant we represent. There is a real fear that should this latest scheme from the Government not work then further ineffective yet damaging reforms to the industry may be explored and we can’t allow that to happen without putting up a fight.”