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.