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Commercial pressure is making it difficult for GPs to compile comprehensive medical reports

By Daile Pepper

Medical reporting firms are urging GPs to cut corners when producing medical reports in order to justify massive reductions in fees for the work.

The BMA says fees have dropped so low that it is difficult for doctors to do a proper job of compiling the required information. But it warned GPs are at risk of legal action and GMC investigation if they do not do a thorough job of completing the report.

The BMA has lodged a complaint against the Association of Medical Reporting Organisations with the Office of Fair Trading as a result of the problem. It stated that GPs were being paid as little as £70 per report, giving the agencies a mark-up of over 175 per cent.

Dr Jan Wise, BMA medico-legal committee chair, said companies were telling doctors to save time by not researching a patient's full medical records. This raised concerns about the quality of the information asked for, she said.

Dr Wise added that medical reporting firms were also employing doctors who were not specialists in the field relevant to the reports needed.

‘Doctors are being pushed to accept low fees to produce basic reports without going into the complexities of the case.

‘Doctors put their reputations on the line every time they do one of these reports – they cannot be done on the cheap,' she said.

Dr Stephanie Bown, head of medical services at the Medical Protection Society, said GPs risked claims for negligence, GMC investigations and adverse costs orders from the courts if inadequate information was used as evidence.

‘The fact that you are only

being paid a modest or insubstantial fee does not detract from your responsibility,' Dr Bown said.

Talks between the BMA and the Association of Medical

Reporting Organisations broke down earlier this year without

reaching a consensus on fees.

Despite this, some companies had sent memos to doctors claiming the industry was in agreement, the BMA warned.

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