The government has been warned that the centrepiece of its scheme for reducing whiplash fraud will not be ready to begin work as scheduled next month.

Under the accreditation arrangements for the MedCo scheme, medical practitioners must complete training before 6 April if they want to be part of independent panels of experts allowed to diagnose soft tissue injuries.

But following an overhaul of accreditation training, those yet to complete it were told last week they must go back to the beginning and start again.

A MedCo spokesman said 132 experts have completed training, but the Gazette understands up to 900 more now face a race against time.

A source involved in the accreditation process said the scheme could face a ‘dearth’ of people ready to diagnose whiplash injuries after 6 April.

‘One thing is for certain, doctors are going to have a busy Easter trying to cram in this training in time,’ he said.

The potential shortage also raises questions about top-tier providers, who are required to have at least 250 accredited experts to retain that status.

MedCo confirmed last week it had made the ‘difficult decision’ to bring accreditation training in-house. It is understood there are no plans to extend the 6 April date.

In a statement, MedCo said: ‘The original training model, which allowed for separate training providers, does not enable MedCo the speed and flexibility required to be able to update the accreditation training as necessary in order to ensure a current, robust, resilient and consistent programme.’

Those doctors who had not completed all five training modules will now have to start again and pass nine modules of the new course.

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.