MoJ announces MedCo shake up

MedCo is to undergo a number of changes, including an expansion of MRO search results and a revised definition of what constitutes an MRO.

The Ministry of Justice has said that it will implement alterations to the medical report sourcing portal for whiplash injuries in an attempt to “remove potential ambiguity” within the system.

Government officials have said that a number of practices have emerged since the portal’s implementation last April which have the “potential to undermine both the government’s policy objectives and public confidence in the system”.

In order to combat these practices, a new definition of a medical reporting organisation (MRO) is to be issued, along with new minimum service level standards and revised criteria for what constitutes a Tier 1 MRO’s ability to offer national coverage.

Additionally, solicitors looking for MROs will be able to choose from two Tier 1 agencies and ten Tier 2 ones. Those sourcing direct medical experts will still be able to choose from a randomly selected choice of seven.

In its response to a consultation on the changes, the MoJ said that it had taken on board concerns that “more than one tier 1 MRO should be included in the revised offer and that there is fair competition both within and outside each tier”, which has lead to the expansion of the MRO search results on MedCo.

The expansion is also designed to try and stop tier 1 MROs from registering multiple shell tier 2 agencies. It is widely acknowledged that this abuse of the system has been widespread.

A three week survey, which closes on 15 April, will be used by the MoJ to form the new definition of a MRO. It is expected that one of the requirements will that tier 1 MROs should have at least 250 active MedCo accredited experts.

MedCo will also look to further stamp out any financial links that exist between MROs and solicitors. The declaration of direct financial links that all MROs must sign, will be strengthened by increasing the time limits for past relationships to three years. It was previously set at 12 months.

In response to the announcement, Nigel Teasdale, the Form of Insurance Lawyers’ (FOIL) representative on MedCo said: “The changes to the MedCo framework which the MOJ has announced address several of the issues which FOIL raised in its consultation response and FOIL welcomes the  steps being taken to tighten up the regime and prevent practices which undermine the system.

“The changes to the qualifying criteria and the declaration of financial links should make the rules clearer and reduce the potential for abuse. As MedCo becomes established  it is important that the regime continues to evolve and FOIL welcomes the MOJ’s continuing commitment to keep the framework under review, particularly on the issue of formal regulation for MROs, which FOIL would support.”