GPs urged to reject report fee cap

GPs should ignore an agreement between insurance companies and medical reporting organisations to cap GP fees for providing reports for personal injury law cases, according to a GP leader.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, former chairman of the BMA's professional fees committee, says a deal struck between 10 major insurance firms and the Association of Medical Reporting Organisations (AMRO) will foster bad practice and is intended to let the agencies skim off more profit when they sell reports on to insurance companies.

GPs could be putting their careers on the line by agreeing to perform the work, he said.

They could be forced to cut corners and risk future litigation against themselves from disgruntled parties involved in the legal dispute, he added.

Under the agreement, doctors will be paid a maximum of £195 for medical examinations to support personal injury claims not expected to exceed £15,000.

Dr Holden said: 'The whole business is designed to force the rates down for GPs. It's about middlemen making a turn. They flog these reports on for vast sums of money. I am not in the business of paying for less able and less qualified people to make a good living.

'MROs do not represent GPs, and if they want to come to me and ask for a report, it costs what it costs based on how long it takes me to do the work.

'Every GP needs to work out for themselves what their overheads are for the year and divide that to get the hourly rate they need to keep the doors open. That is the hourly rate they need to charge for these reports, which will necessarily have to be done in their spare time. These insurance companies are just trying to bully doctors.'

He added: 'Some doctors don't have the skills to do this work and they are risking their own registration.'

But former AMRO chairman Matthew Game, managing director of medical reports agency Mobile Doctors, defended the agreement and said it was good news for GPs.

'It's important to remember that what we are talking about here are very minor cases,' he said. It might be whiplash or a fall at work. They are not things that would take up an enormous amount of a GP's time.

'Virtually all cases are fast tracked through agencies now and the agencies will have a panel of doctors that they trust and with whom they have an agreed price.'

The agreement would cap the amount agencies could charge for medical reports, he said.

'Insurance companies were beginning to get worried that this was spiralling out of control,' he added.

FEE CAP - £195: AMRO agreed maximum fee for insurance medical examinations for claims less than £15,000.

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