Top GP backs government plans to check whiplash claims
A leading GP has backed government plans to cut the cost of whiplash claims by requiring claimants to see specialists.
Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctors Association, told the Gazette there had been a marked increase in patients complaining of stiff necks following car accidents.
The trend, he said, began with the advent of no win, no fee arrangements and puts doctors in the difficult position of diagnosing an injury even if they suspect fakery.
Claimant groups have raised doubts over government plans to create a panel of whiplash specialists to confirm diagnosis before a personal injury claim can be started.
However Dr Swinyard, whose group brings together more than 1,000 GP practices, said: ‘You always assume people are not lying to you, but with the best will in the world you sometimes have a hunch things are not as they seem.
‘I’ve been in general practice for 27 years and the number of people coming in just to have their whiplash documented is very much higher than it used to be. It would be greatly in the public interest to have specialists looking at this diagnosis. If people are suffering from "compensation-itis", the sooner they’re weeded out and sent on their way the better.’
The Ministry of Justice has yet to outline the details of how the panel would work. An announcement is expected later this summer.
The British Medical Association has told ministers it would welcome a panel to provide independent assessment of whiplash claims, but warned that a second diagnosis would not ease pressure on GPs.
A spokesman said: ‘The only way this may reduce workload would be if the insurance company told the patient not to go to the GP and instead referred them to this alternative service.
‘Patients would also still need the GP to provide a fit note before they could go back to work.’
Donna Scully, chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society, said any attempt to raise the diagnosis threshold must not mean genuine victims are prevented from claiming.