Moves on medical reports
From Christopher Yong
Association of Medicolegal Doctors Milton Keynes
The High Court decision (Wollard v Fowler, December 2005) that an agency can only recover what it has paid to a doctor for a medicolegal report has cast doubt on the financial viability of such agencies.
Many medicolegal experts have lost money as a result of agencies closing down and the BMA is drawing up guidance for doctors caught in the fallout.
Another controversial issue is the future implementation of a fixed-fee scheme for medical reports. Under this scheme, no matter how much/ little work is involved in a given case, experts would be paid a fixed fee.
Personal injury solicitors saw their fees slashed when fixed fees were implemented by the Civil Justice Council a few years ago and the fees of medicolegal doctors are likely to meet a similar fate under such a scheme.
The BMA believes that, even where damages for an injury are relatively low, medical reports may involve complex issues and take time and expertise to prepare.
Any fixed-fee scheme must therefore reflect overheads, and be commensurate with the time spent by experts examining the claimant and in compiling the report, and not be dictated by market forces.
The case of Wollard is currently being appealed and will be heard later this year.