MedCo has suspended 23 Medical Reporting Organisations (MROs) and 14 direct medical experts for failing to upload medical case data to the MedCo system within a reasonable time.
MROs and direct medical experts are required to upload medical case date within six months from the date of instruction.
The suspension comes after MedCo issued 337 warning letters to users for non-compliant behaviour when using the online system. Behaviours included circumventing the random search selection process, influencing medical expert's opinion on diagnosis / prognosis, undertaking medical examinations in inappropriate circumstances and failing to upload case data.
MROs had been warned the uploading of reports was being 'monitored' and will form part of the 2017 Audits.
The suspended organisations and experts will still be permitted to complete existing instructions to avoid impact on authorised users, however they will no longer feature in searches on the MedCo system until MedCo has reassessed the position.
It remains to be seen whether the suspended users will be permitted to use the system again. A suspension for a specified period of time would be a useful preventative measure to combat the number of companies undermining the scheme and it is hoped some further punitive sanctions is imposed for these breaches.
MedCo has faced a number of problems since it was set up in 2015. In October 2016 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published new rules and qualifying criteria for companies wanting to join the MedCo system as an MRO, in order to prevent exploitation of the system. However in light of this revelation, it still seems there is more to be done to 'debug' the system.
Potential breaches of the MedCo system should be reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA has been more adept in showing its teeth in enforcement action recent years and it is to be hoped this has a suitable future deterrent effect.