Whiplash panel entry rules ‘anti-competitive’

By 26th May 2015 Uncategorised No Comments

The organisation created to run panels of independent whiplash experts is taking legal advice over concerns that the scheme is anti-competitive.

Complaints have been registered that the biggest medical reporting organisations are filing multiple registration applications to give themselves a greater chance of being picked through the MedCo allocation system.

Solicitor firms running claims can choose from one national provider and six second-tier organisations to carry out whiplash diagnosis.

The Gazette revealed last month that the four biggest MROs have each submitted two applications to be top-tier providers.

One of the biggest MROs, Speed Medical, has been reported this week to be registering at least 10 entries for the second tier. The company is reported in some forums to be appearing in some form in 45% of searches, although it is important to note this does not breach any existing rules.

A spokesman for Speed Medical said it was one of several MROs to make mutiple applications, which were necessary to maintain the existing business.

It is understood several complaints have been made to MedCo about anti-competitiveness, and the organisation has now started auditing registered companies to ensure compliance.

There are concerns among some MedCo board members that the regulations as set out by the Ministry of Justice are harming the intention of the panels, which was to ensure financial incentives are taken out of whiplash diagnosis and fraudulent or exaggerated claims are reduced.

A MedCo spokesman said: ‘The MedCo board recognises that this is a rapidly evolving market and that some behaviours, while currently permitted under the qualifying criteria as set out by the MoJ, may undermine the original policy intention. Processes may be updated in the future to address these concerns and users will be notified.

‘The board is currently seeking urgent legal advice on the scope of its authority, within the legal framework set up by the MoJ, to address these emerging operational concerns. It remains for the MoJ to consider whether there is a case for adapting any aspect of the policy framework.’

Dan Chesney, group marketing manager for Speed Medical, said the company faced a drop to 10% of its previous volume of medical reqeusts and it ‘needed to act’ to protect the jobs of its 200 employees.

He added: ‘We had many customers and solicitors complaining about the service and actions of the other MROs, with appointments in three months’ time, asking for pre-payment of reports and clients being asked to travel distances to see a GP.

‘We knew that we could replicate the great service that we provide in other companies and give customers the option to receive that great service.’

Any claim notification form for an RTA claim must be commissioned from a medical expert or medical reporting organisations 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.

Any company which has applied for tier-one status must show the ability to process at least 40,000 reports a year.

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.

VIA: http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/5048943.article?utm_source=dispatch&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GAZ210515

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