Whiplash scheme suffers another three-month delay

Topics: Personal injury & clinical negligence,Government & politics

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The government’s flagship scheme for reducing whiplash fraud has suffered yet another setback with a key element delayed by three months.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed today that it has extended the accreditation deadline for medical experts signing up to the MedCo scheme.


The Gazette revealed earlier this month that doctors yet to complete the full accreditation programme had to start their training again, after a change of provider.

MedCo said at the time that the existing 6 April deadline - after which only accredited experts could write whiplash reports - was still in place. The government was warned that it would face a shortage of experts to diagnose soft-tissue injuries if the issue was not resolved, with just 132 experts accredited less than a month before the deadline.

The deadline has now moved to 1 June, creating another delay to a scheme which was confirmed back in December 2014.

In a statement, MedCo said it has received a number of enquiries about the interpretation of the scheme, and in particular whether experts can provide a valid medical report if they were instructed before the accreditation deadline.

The company took this issue to the MoJ, together with experts’ concerns about successfully achieving accreditation by 6 April due to changes to the training programme.

The statement said the master of the rolls Lord Dyson has agreed to the extension, and MedCo wished to publicly thank the MoJ and Dyson for their response.

MedCo was founded on the principle that experts should be independently accredited and have no financial link to lawyers instructing them. But the government-backed scheme has already faced accusations that it limits claimant choice.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Maybe it is time the government accepts that its flagship scheme is an abject failure.

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  • Medco is the wrong answer to the wrong question, poorly conceived, badly implemented and with failing management.

    Add to the above expensive and you've got a classic HMG IT disaster.

    Hopefully this misconceived project will wither on the vine.

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  • I would be interested to learn why anybody could possibly have downvoted Jonathan Massey's opening comment. This is a flagship scheme, and it is a failure. How could anybody disagree with that?

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  • Awaiting obligatory response from D Crawford

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  • The pedant in me can't resist pointing out that a delay from 6 April to 1 June is actually less than two months, but who (apart from me) is counting.

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  • I am an expert witness, dutifully ploughing my way through the extensive Medco training "modules" , 9 in all, with a 10 question multiple choice test which has to be passed at the end of each.

    The material is all relevant, some of it new, but most of it pretty old hat to the old lags like myself who have been doing this work for decades.

    What I don't understand is the rationale for all this.

    The unspoken accusation is that rogue doctors are acting as hired guns and writing reports legitimising whiplash symptoms which don't exist.

    But that has been illegal since the Woolf reforms of 1999. Of course it is impossible to exclude completely but I see scores of reports from doctors at all levels each year and have yet to see one which is not reasonably balanced.

    It is true that many of the initial reports are tick box exercises which, thanks to sophisticated software, are then converted into recognisable prose. They are compiled quickly and for modest fees, but the prognoses are rarely for more than 6 months.

    Presumably the MoJ are hoping that exposure to all the scientific work done on whiplash will create a catharsis in the Expert Witness cadre, a Pauline conversion in which as one we declare the diagnosis invalid.

    That would appear to be a forlorn hope.

    But of course there remains the ongoing issue of whether or when George Osborne's suggestion in the Autumn Statement last year that damages for pain and suffering for whiplash were to be abolished, along with the raising of the small claims court limit on PI to £5000.

    If that really goes ahead then it is difficult to see a role for Medco, lawyers or indeed medical reporters in this condition.

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  • Actually, Mr Jessop, writing fraudulent reports has been "unlawful" since perjury has been an offence but it hasn't stopped far too many "Medical Experts" writing reports that grossly exaggerate the symptomatology and prognosis for the ubiquitous "neck-sprain" injury. Anyone involved in Defendant motor PI could identify the most notorious.
    One of my tame experts was the late, great, Dr John Cooke the Consultant head Neurologist of the Pinderfields Spinal Injurries unit. It was located there because it was central for the deep mining industry where spinal injuries were severe. He loathed the so-called "Experts" who wilfully would describe trivial, routine neck injuries - typical two to six week soft tissue injuries - as "severe". He punctured the gravy train by pointing out what were "severe" and what were trivial. Without the threat of a solid kicking by a real expert, the paper experts got away with financial fraud.
    But the Government's ineptitude and interference in areas they know nothing about doesn't help anyone.

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  • Fair enough!

    Of course whiplash reports are claimant generated and a relatively small proportion merit the expense of rebuttal in a defence report. That may give me a different perspective to the one you describe. I am of course aware of some of the "notorious" experts you mention, but I did think this was largely a thing of the past.

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  • what is the point in doing anything other than mothballing it all for the moment since if the chancellor has his way whiplash will soon no longer exist?

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  • I hope they would be able to resolve this as it wouldn't be fair for those who are really claiming for a whiplash injury. They genuinely needed the financial assistance for the accident

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