Executive Chair’s Update – August 2019
Published: 6 August 2019
The Board has recently approved the audited accounts for year ended December 2018. These showed a loss of £99,854 and retained earnings at the end of the year of £5,078,588. So far this financial year we are operating at a £65,000 surplus compared to the annual budget forecast.
The Board continues to remain very cautious as to what impact the forthcoming personal injury reforms will have on MedCo and its Users and will need to ensure that we have sufficient retained earnings in order to achieve a sustainable future.
It is still the Board’s intention to review the MedCo charging policy for April 2020. We have listened to various comments and criticisms about our current policy and our aim is to move towards a fairer, and more transparent, “user pays” system as soon as possible. Whilst I cannot confirm any details as yet, consideration is being given to the possibility of charging MROs a lower annual renewal/registration fee but introducing a small fee for each medical report instruction. A similar basis of charging may also operate for direct medical experts. We will also be considering other potential income streams (e.g. charging search fees for professional users).
Before implementing any changes, `we will consult with our operational users in order to seek their views on any proposals.
Personal Injury Reforms
The Civil Liability Act 2018 and changes to the Civil Procedure rules (CPR) are due to come into force in April 2020.
Subject to any unexpected changes to Government policy, there cannot, at the moment, be any doubt that the forthcoming reforms to low value personal injury claims will change the current landscape of medical reporting for many who have been injured in a road traffic accident.
The reforms will include: -
- Tariff based damages (where injuries resolve within 2 years)
- An increase in the small claims limit for RTA claims from £1000 to £5000 (this excludes minors and other “vulnerable” claimants)
- A new public “web portal” to assist unrepresented claimants in making their claims
The effect of increasing the small claims limit will mean that claimants will not be able to recover any legal costs apart from their reasonably incurred disbursements (e.g. fixed cost medical report fees) and special damages.
MedCo will continue to play a major part in the process for both represented and unrepresented claimants to obtain a medical report in support of their claims. For some months we have been working very closely with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and their appointed Agents. I am therefore very pleased to be able to say that the MedCo I.T. project enabling us to fully integrate with the new public web portal is well underway. Subject to any unforeseen problems our systems will have been tested and fully operational and integrated with the new web portal before implementation next April.
Our current priorities are to ensure that unrepresented claimants are able to obtain a medical report of the highest quality that complies with MedCo’s own rules and the CPR. As part of this process there will need to be a review of: -
- The current qualifying criteria for Medical Reporting Organisations (MROs)
- MedCo rules and guidance for direct medical experts (DMEs)
- MedCo’s audit programme of MROs and DMEs
This process has already commenced and I will provide further details in November.
In addition to a further e-shot update it is our intention to organise events for all registered Users during November. Subject to venue availability and sufficient interest those events will be in London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester and, I hope, will include a demonstration of the new web portal by the MoJ. Please look out for further news about this.