The government’s long-awaited scheme for independent whiplash diagnosis comes into force today, with some of the UK’s biggest commercial clinical services providers jostling to be at the front of the queue.

From today, all soft tissue injury claims caused by a road traffic accident will be subject to diagnosis by contractors of a new company, MedCo. Any claim notification form sent from today must be commissioned from a medical expert or medical reporting organisations (MROs) sourced through the MedCo website.

Medical experts have been required to pay a £150 annual registration fee, while MROs are split into two categories, paying a £15,000 or £75,000 annual fee accordingly per individual registration. Solicitors seeking to instruct an expect will have the choice from one top-tier provider and six regional second-tier providers.

Meanwhile, the Gazette can confirm the biggest existing medical reporting companies have submitted two applications to be top-tier providers of whiplash diagnosis in the new portal.

Doctors Chambers and sister company Bodycare Clinics have each registered as tier-one MROs, Premex is registered along with its sister company UK Independent Medical, while Speed Medical and its sister company MLA will be high-volume providers. Public sector outsourcing giant Capita has also made a single application to register with MedCo and expects to achieve tier-one status.

Any company which has applied for tier-one status must show the ability to process at least 40,000 reports a year. A spokeswoman for MedCo confirmed that any companiy or subsidiary who fail to demonstrate they have met the qualifying criteria will be re-categorised with no refund.

The government has ruled there can be no financial link between the solicitor firm and medical expert or MRO for any particular claim. The intention is that taking away any financial links between those making the claim and those supporting it will reduced the number of exaggerated or fraudulent claims.