Businesses diagnosing whiplash injuries will have to pay up to £75,000 within the next month to be at the front of the queue for offering their services to solicitors.
The Ministry of Justice this week revealed that medical reporting organisations (MROs) will be split into two tiers, with the top tier paying a £75,000 annual charge and the second tier group £15,000.
From 6 April, doctors must be registered with a new company, MedCo Registration Solutions, in order to provide the initial fixed cost medical report in a soft tissue injury claim.
Solicitor firms looking to instruct experts to carry out work will choose whom to instruct from seven options, consisting of one MRO from the top tier and six from tier two.
Top tier MROs must demonstrate capacity to process at least 40,000 medical reports each year and have contractual arrangements with at least 250 medical experts. They are also barred from taking more than 40% of their claims from a single instructing law firm.
The Gazette understands that concern is mounting in the claimant sector that not enough doctors will be registered by 6 April – leaving a shortage of experts to diagnose whiplash cases.
The prospect of paying five-figure annual fees – plus a security bond of £100,000 for tier one and £20,000 for tier two MROs – has also raised worries about doctors and organizations dropping out of the sector – particularly with fees for the first diagnosis report fixed at £180.
The Ministry of Justice said there has been ’significant’ response to the pre-registration survey of interest and does not believe there will be a lack of doctors.
A spokesman for the Motor Accident Solicitors Society said: ‘MASS has expressed its concerns to the MoJ about how the random allocation system will work for MROs. We believe that the MoJ's decision, announced this week, to offer one national MRO and six others, will create problems both for MROs and for law firms.
‘The short timescales for MROs to consider the implications, understand how they will be affected and what the scheme will cost, and decide whether to proceed to register, are unlikely to improve the scheme's popularity.’