MedCo Stumbles On

MedCo, the online portal for the randomised provision of medical experts in whiplash claims (‘soft tissue injury claims’ in low value claims to which the RTA Protocol applies[1]), which was imposed on the legal profession with effect from April 2015, has not proved a great success for the lawyers using it, or indeed the medical experts registering with it.

Lawyers who are now forced to use MedCo complain that instead of being able to instruct medical experts whom they know and can rely on to provide quality reports and to a known service standard, they are now offered individual doctors of whom they have no experience or knowledge and who do not match up to those not unreasonable expectations.  The insurance industry would say that that is the necessary consequence of introducing a system to break the perceived[2] unhealthy relationship which existed between some experts and some lawyers in obtaining supportive evidence for claims.

To overcome some of the problems that this has caused, MedCo introduced on 4th November 2015 minimum service standards for general practitioner reports[3].  The registered experts must now provide acknowledgement of initial instructions within 24 hours of receipt and provide an appointment date, which must be within 8 weeks unless otherwise requested, within 14 days. A suitable clinic must be available no further than 30 miles from a claimant’s home or work and a report must be delivered within 14 days of an appointment or receipt of all medical records in those cases where medical records are required.

These standards apply not only to medical experts but also to non-national Medical Reporting Organisations.  National MROs will continue to be bound by their own standards and service levels.  MedCo will be introducing formal Service Level Agreements for all registered medical experts and non-national MROs when they renew their registrations in April 2016.

A failure to comply will put the medical experts at risk of suspension from MedCo, the only source of work in this field.

The fact that these standards were felt necessary reflects very badly on the service standards of experts who have registered with MedCo.  However this does not of course address the issue of the quality of the reports themselves.  So called ‘accreditation’ is due to be introduced next year – recently put back from January to February 2016 to allow time for the newly developed online courses to be completed.  We will have to await developments once what is in practice a ‘certification’ scheme is up and running, but it is far from clear how effectively this will address the issue of quality in report writing.

[Who or what is medico-legal minder?  Terms and conditions apply]

[1] See Section 3.4 of Writing Medico-Legal Reports in Civil Claims – an essential guide (www.prosols.uk.com) for more information and explanation of these claims and the applicable process.

[2] No evidence has been supplied to support this contention

[3] http://www.medco.org.uk/media/1098/medco-minimum-service-standards-october-2015.pdf

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