The big medical reporting organisations (MROs) have registered more multiple shell companies on MedCo to maintain market share, rather than increase it, and are responding to the demands of solicitors, the founder and CEO of Doctors Chambers has said.
Bippon Vinayak was speaking in the wake of the revelation that his company, along with three others, has recently registered a second wave of tier 2 shell companies, even though the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is committed to halting the practice.
MedCo was introduced to randomise the selection of MROs and medical experts for claimants sourcing fixed-cost medical reports for soft tissue injury claims – a solicitor searching MedCo for an MRO is presented with a random selection of one tier 1 MRO (that is, a high-volume national provider) and six smaller tier 2 MROs.
The aim was to address the risks of abuse represented by financial links between some providers of medical evidence and those instructing them.
In a statement to Litigation Futures, Mr Vinayah said: “Whilst I agree that randomisation has its place in tackling abuse, I believe that the speed with which MedCo was introduced, and the rigidity of the MedCo selection system, has been at the expense of jeopardising the availability of the quality reporting standards and processes offered by Doctors Chambers and other leading MROs.
“A particular unintended feature of the MedCo regime has been the registration of a large number of smaller untried MROs as tier 1 or tier 2 providers. [The MedCo] selection offering was predicated on the MoJ anticipating a far lower level of registrations than has in fact been the case (and as was predicted by the leading MRO providers).
“The choice of MROs offered by the MedCo portal, driven simply by the numbers of registrants in each tier with no reference to quality criteria, leads to significant risk that solicitors could be prevented from instructing MROs with proven commitment to quality. Ultimately this is to the detriment of the justice system.”
Mr Vinayak said that this was why he was in the process of registering a further 20 “full operational companies” as tier 2 MROs.
“I believe that our leading peers and competitors are similarly motivated. Our move is driven by the demands of our instructing solicitors who, faced with the influx of registrations by new and untried entrants to the market, demand to be able to select and instruct known MROs with proven and consistent commitment to quality.
“We do not expect it to increase our market share, but rather it is the best way open to us to ensure that our instructing solicitors remain able to select Doctors Chambers from among the MROs presented by the MedCo portal.”
Premier Medical Group is another to have registered 20 new shell companies, and chairman Harry Brünjes said: “Although I understand the philosophy of MedCo, the recent activity reinforces the fragility of the current model.
“At Premier we support the efforts to tackle dishonest whiplash claims and wish to work alongside government but believe the focus should be on established companies with sound financial history and a core focus on medical excellence.”
Neither of the other two MROs involved, Premex and Speed Medical, had a comment.