By Kate McKinlay
Six months ago I blogged about low value personal injury litigation’s quantum leap in to the uncharted territory of MedCo.
So, six months on, how has it fared?
Well, not good it would appear. In fact such were the concerns that the MOJ brought forward the first review by three months amid concerns as to how MedCo was doing.
Responses to this consultation, which closed on 4th September, overwhelming agreed it needs urgent reform. Somewhat unusually, in this instance it would appear that both Claimant and Defendant’s are unsatisfied.
In APIL’s submission to the Ministry, it identified that Medical Reporting Organisations (MRO) are able to ‘self-vouch’ with no verification process required. The result it is suggested is that, amongst other things, some MROs are manipulating the contracting process by registering multiple entities to ensure market share.
APIL also pointed out that whilst, prior to MedCo, it was worth MROs investing in IT in order to attract solicitors, there is now no such incentive since the instructing solicitor has no choice over which MRO they use. This, APIL suggests (and I agree) that this will inevitably lead to decline in quality of service.
On the other side of the fence, the insurers’ legal representatives are unhapppy too. Well known firms like Kennedy have said they seek more transparency so as to, for example, identify which law firms are instructing which experts, arguing that this is necessary to achieve complete financial separation between solicitors and MROs.
It is perhaps inevitable that these problems have arisen, given the lack of regulation and policing that currently exists within the MedCo scheme. No doubt that are those amongst us who will say I told you so.
In their defence the MOP is responding. It has acted quickly with a second consultation opening on 9th Septembers setting out its proposals for reform. These include a commitment to the independence of commissioning reports, accreditation for experts writing reports and data sharing to fight fraudulent claims. This consultation closed on 1st October. It is to the MOJ’s credit that steps were announced yesterday, less than 3 weeks after the close of the consultation, to deliver their second proposal namely accreditation.From 1st January 2016, at the latest, experts will need to be accredited. The accreditation process will take approximately 35 hours. Currently only two training firms have been identified to provide the accreditation but this number is set to grow.
It may just be that those of us who despair at the quality of some of the medical reports provided in low value RTA claims can be cautiously hopeful that one day soon standards will return. Indeed given the focus and speed with which the MOJ is addressing the identified issues, it may just be that the prognosis for the future of Medco is good.
Link to my earlier blog: