Whiplash fraudsters waste 1m NHS hours a year
NHS doctors see around 116,000 patients they suspect are exaggerating or feigning whiplash injuries to claim compensation fraudulently every month, a shock report has found.
The figure - the equivalent to a million wasted NHS working hours a year - reveals that doctors are seeing more and more dishonest attempts to claim from drivers following an accident, despite legislation being introduced two years ago to attempt to tackle the problem.
The study, from insurers LV, found that some 43% of doctors said they now see spurious claims on a regular basis, compared to just 26% in 2012.
Nearly a third (29%) of physicians said they are seeing more feigned injuries, such as head, back and psychological problems, than they were three years ago as well.
More than half (52%) say fraudsters have tried to pressurise them into agreeing with their condition, while a hefty 77% admit they are careful in the choice of words they use in their medical report, such as "alleges" in order to show their scepticism about the claim.
The figures back up the fact that the UK sees more claims for whiplash injuries per car accident than anywhere else in Western Europe. A whopping 78% of accidents in the UK where one driver accepts liability resolve in a whiplash claim – compared to just 35% in the Netherlands, 31% in Spain and 30% in France.
Martin Milliner, LV= claims director, said: "Verifying personal injury claims takes up a lot of time and places unnecessary pressure on our already stretched health service. The cost of dealing with fraudulent claims not only pushes up the cost of car insurance for honest motorists but it also hurts the public purse.
"While insurers, working with government, have made good progress in the crackdown on fraud, it appears that fraudsters are trying new tactics to beat the system and claim compensation they are not entitled to. Those tempted to make a claim when they do not have an injury should think again as making a fraudulent claim could lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence."
In order to cut down on the "compensation culture", the government has set up a new medical reporting panel, MedCo. From 1 April, all those attempting to claim compensation for whiplash will have to get a medical report from an accredited MedCo professional.