Medco issued 337 warning letters to users for their non-compliant behaviour when using the online system in the year to 31 March 2017.
Behaviours involved circumventing the random search selection process and influencing medical expert's opinion on diagnosis / prognosis. Other breaches of user agreements included undertaking medical examinations in inappropriate circumstances and failing to upload case data.
Of the 337 users who received warning letters, 235 were suspended from the system. Those suspended were predominantly claimant lawyers, in addition to Medical Reporting Organisations (MROs) and directly instructed medical experts. Medco reinstated 84 users after they rectified their behaviour; however in total 134 user agreements were terminated.
The figures were revealed in Medco's submission to the Justice Committees Inquiry into the Government's personal injury reforms, contained in the Prison and Courts Bill. The inquiry was launched in March 2017; however both the inquiry and the Bill have now been abandoned following Theresa May's decision to hold a snap election on 8 June 2017. It is unknown whether they will be reinstated following the election.
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.