The government is set to give claimants and their solicitors a random selection of medical experts to choose from as part of the next stage of whiplash reform, it has emerged.
The government consultation in August asked for views on whether claimants should be allocated an expert or given a choice – through the new MedCo portal – while the Ministry of Justice has also been considering whether a choice should be random or through search filters.
Though no official decisions have been announced, newly released papers from the October meeting of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee indicate that a random selection will be provided.
A paper presented to the committee by the Ministry of Justice said amendments to paragraphs 7.1A and 7.32A of the RTA Protocol will require claimant representatives “to select an expert from a list randomly provided by MedCo”.
It added: “There will be a choice as to whether to instruct an expert direct or via a medical reporting organisation and the choice offered will take account of the claimant’s geographical location and ability to travel.
“MedCo will, however, filter out those experts or reporting organisations with direct financial links to the claimant representative. The MedCo system is expected to be available from early in 2015, following a programme of user testing during the autumn.”
The revised protocol as consulted on talked about experts being “allocated” via the MedCo Portal, but the amendments seen by the committee replaced this with the word “selected”.
A note attached to the change said: “The phrase ‘selected via’ is intended to cover the allocation to the claimant of a limited choice of experts or MROs and then the instruction of an accredited expert either directly or via one of the MROs.
Last week, the head of one of the largest providers of medical reports, Capital Medical Reporting, described random allocation as “barking mad” .