The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) today brought forward its planned six-month review of MedCo in response to the problems that have been encountered so far.
In a written statement to Parliament, civil justice minister Lord Faulks said the plan had been to start a review of MedCo in October, once six months’ worth of useable data was available.
“However, since the portal went live on 6 April 2015, issues relating to a number of new business practices within this sector have emerged which have the potential to undermine the government’s policy objectives and public confidence in the MedCo portal.
“Today, therefore, I would like to confirm that the government is bringing its planned review forward.”
The MoJ has launched a public call for evidence “which will form a key part of the review process”, Lord Faulks said.
“The review will specifically seek evidence on whether the MedCo IT portal meets the government’s objectives, and the evidence provided will be analysed to identify whether changes need to be made to the portal or to the framework of rules underpinning it in order to achieve those objectives.
“The government seeks views from stakeholders across the medico-legal reporting services sector in respect of whiplash claims, including representatives from the claimant lawyer, medical and insurance sectors. A report with recommendations for action – if required – will be published in the autumn.”
Litigation Futures has chronicled the problems that have emerged since 6 April, with two judicial reviews now underway: Speed Medical is challenging the MoJ’s decision that of the seven medical reporting organisations (MROs) presented to a solicitor from a search on MedCo, only one is a ‘tier 1’ provider, meaning it is a high-volume national MRO, like Speed; the second action is from a group of businesses claiming that there was insufficient consultation before MedCo was introduced.
Further, last month the MoJ told MedCo to crack down on the tier 1 MROs that have created multiple tier 2 agencies to increase their chances of receiving instructions and expressed concern over the ‘Qualitas’ model.
Other issues include the work solicitors are having to put in to establish the credentials of new tier 2 providers that have emerged since MedCo started.