Reports firms owe GPs £600,000

Thousands of GPs are owed around £2,000 on average after two medical reporting firms went into administration.

Administrators from auditing firm KPMG are investigating after IMS, trading as IMS Indem-nity Ltd and IMS Litigation, went into administration earlier this month.KPMG will report back to creditors within 10 weeks of its appointment on 7 June.

BMA medico-legal committee chairman Dr Jan Wise said the majority of doctors owed money by IMS were GPs. He estimated that around 3,000 doctors in total were out of pocket.

'GPs are the majority of the creditors - I think the average debt is probably around £2,000 to each of them,' Dr Wise said. Much of the money may not be recoverable, he warned.

However, there was a possibility that cash could be recouped via the courts or if cases GPs had provided reports for had not yet been settled.

'If the case hasn't been settled then a substantial proportion of the fee could be recoverable,' Dr Wise said. 'If the case is ongoing and the GP hasn't been paid, they can write to the solicitors who commissioned the report and claim that intellectual property has not been discharged.'

Dr Wise added that a class action to recover debts might also be possible.

He said that in some cases the medical reporting firms had referred to themselves in writing as 'agents' of the solicitors who commissioned reports.

This could make it possible to claim fees directly from the so-licitors, Dr Wise said.

Retired Luton GP Dr Anthony Mitchell said he was owed around £150 by IMS for two reports.

'I've written it off. For what I'm owed it's not worth the hassle of taking anyone to court,' he said.

But, he added, other doctors who had worked for the firm were owed £1,000 or more, and would be keen to take legal action.

Dr Marshall said many GPs were carrying out 'hundreds of reports for IMS or similar medical reporting firms'.

Last July IMS paid more than £300 to Surrey GP Dr Raghunath Lall after GP exposed the firm's failure to respond to repeated re-quests for payment.

The BMA is collecting reports from GPs who are owed money by IMS. It will forward them to KPMG and demand information.

A KPMG spokesman said the firms had an annual turnover of £8 million and KPMG was looking at the possibility of selling their intellectual property rights.

BMA contact: Live links http://www.healthcarerepublic.com

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