Warning on plans to restrict list of whiplash experts

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said it is concerned about plans from the government to limit the kinds of doctors who are able to report on soft tissue injuries such as whiplash.

The Ministry of Justice has put forward plans to change the rules setting out which types of medical experts are able to be instructed by personal injury solicitors to write reports on whiplash injury cases.

These plans seem to restrict those experts who may be instructed in England and Wales to:

• GPs
• Chartered physiotherapists
• Consultant orthopaedic surgeons

Now the chair of the medico-legal committee of the British Medical Association, Jan Wise, has commented that these proposals could severely limit the kinds of experts which those who have suffered a whiplash injury would be likely to see.

She insisted that reports should be allowed to be produced by any doctor who had the appropriate knowledge and expertise.

So that, for example, could extend to higher-level trainee doctors, staff and associate specialists and A & E department consultants.

Dr Wise added: “A & E consultants particularly are frequently involved in managing the treatment of patients with these kinds of injuries, and then often in the follow-up and management of their conditions in review clinics. So they should be incorporated within the list of experts who are permitted to write the reports for these cases.

“At the BMA, we will be making a response to this consultation. And it’s also important that, equally, doctors make submissions of their own responses so that the government appreciates the strength of feeling which is out there.”

The move is one element of a broader drive by the government to bring down the cost and number of whiplash compensation claims.

According to the government, personal injury claims increased by 60% in the six years to 2012, although reported accidents during the same time frame was down by 20%, and vehicles have generally become safer.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) which represents personal injury solicitors, and the ministry, have collaborated on the project to seek more information on road accident claims from medical experts. It ends this month.

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