New reports have emerged that three different GP surgeries have decided to begin charging patients for whiplash diagnosis and treatment if they come in expressly for the purpose of making a whiplash claim.
The 1988 Road Traffic Act paved the way for these three surgeries to charge for their services, as the law permits medical professionals to charge £21.30 for whiplash injury diagnosis and treatment, but in practice few to none have actually charged for the service. However, three Sheffield NHS walk-in centres have begun to make use of the provision, with One Medicare, the company that runs all three, citing ‘an increase in activity’ for the decision to charge their patients.
It is true that whiplash claims volume has increased by massive amounts over the past few years, to the point where there are approximately 1,500 bodily injury claims made to insurers on a daily basis. This figure has increased by a third over the past three years, even as the number of RTAs has declined, and insurers say that whiplash-related claims cost the insurance industry in excess of £2 billion in 2011 alone.
Government ministers have pledged to do whatever they can to institute a claims industry crackdown, but the wheels of justice grind much too slowly for many industry experts. AA Insurance’s director, Simon Douglas, has criticised the lack of action on the government’s part, calling for a civil litigation reform timescale to be applied in order to discourage people from making whiplash claims in the case of trivial injuries – or no injuries at all.