Details have emerged about the costs incurred by medical agencies that were suspended from taking part in the government’s whiplash diagnosis scheme.
MedCo took steps just over a year ago to suspend 134 registered medical reporting organisations (MROs) which appeared to be shell companies set up by existing operational MROs. This duplication was subsequently banned by updated qualifying criteria which raised the threshold for MROs seeking to be eligible for the scheme.
The practice of creating shell companies was felt to undermine the principles behind the system: the government had set up the scheme to ensure accredited and independent doctors could be randomly chosen by lawyers to diagnose their clients’ soft tissue injuries.
According to MedCo’s annual report published last week, in the year to 31 December 2016 the not-for-profit organisation recouped more than £1m from MROs that paid their annual fees but were subsequently suspended.
MedCo operated a ‘no refund’ policy which was stipulated in the agreements all users signed, and consequently it retained these fees at the end of the year.
The annual report also reports that MedCo had to allocate ‘disproportionate’ resources during 2016 to policing the behaviours of solicitors and MROs and potential breaches of user agreements and the ethics policy.
The board confirmed it will audit all MROs against the revised qualifying criteria by the end of this year.
The organisation recorded a turnover in 2016 of £5.8m, with an operating surplus of £3.8m. This surplus was reflected in registration fees for 2017-2018 being reduced by 23%
By the end of 2016, MedCo had 1,349 medical experts as registered users; 1,043 of them had passed the online accreditation course.
The scheme was founded and is managed by interested representative bodies, including the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Association of British Insurers.