Whiplash diagnosis is to be allowed by video examination in the latest concession to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.
MedCo, the accreditation scheme responsible for overseeing medical reports for soft tissue injury, had said last week that it would not lift its ban on the use of remote diagnosis.
That stance has now changed following the development of government policy and advice, and the MedCo board has now decided to introduce temporary measures during the current pandemic.
A MedCo statement said: ‘The overriding importance is that claimants’ needs are met and these measures are intended to assist users to continue to operate and provide a service.’
The board maintains its position that remote examination is not routinely appropriate and the ban will be reinstated at the earliest possible opportunity. There continue to be concerns about the scope for fraudulent claims to be made. Voice examinations will not be acceptable.
It is understood the decision was prompted not only by safety concerns but also by the financial impact on claimant lawyers, who faced being unable to progress any cases because clients could not be diagnosed remotely.
Relaxing the ban followed discussions over the weekend with the Ministry of Justice. MedCo said it will be essential for claimants to study conditions and comply with these requirements. Remote examinations should be offered as an option only and no claimant should be pressurised to agree. If a claimant insists on a face-to-face appointment, medical experts should contact them directly and advise them on the risks of doing so.
Claimants should seek the advice of their lawyer before agreeing to a remote examination. Legal representatives should ensure that claimants are made aware of all potential risks, including the higher risk of an insurer challenging the report.
Meanwhile, medical reporting organisations whose fees are due on or after 6 April should delay making payment until further notice. Those companies who have already paid before that deadline will be contacted in due course.
All audit visits of medical experts and organisations will be suspended with immediate effect, and no new MRO registration applications will be accepted until further notice. The annual CPD requirement for medical experts to be completed by 1 June will be suspended.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.