Growing Friction Between Auditors and MROs

This week, it has been reported that the MedCo Board have issued a warning to Medical Reporting Organisations in the process of audit.

MedCo, the government-backed scheme for providing soft tissue injury diagnosis, changed its minimum qualifying criteria for registering a medical reporting organisation (MRO) last autumn. The rationale for this was to better ensure that financial links between lawyers and medics were severed, which was the original mission statement of MedCo. Consequently, the updated MRO definition depicts:

‘... an organisation whose principle function is to provide medico-legal reporting services and which is—

(i) independent;

(ii) properly staffed and resourced; and

(iii) directly and solely responsible for all work associated with receiving instructions via the MedCo portal and instructing a medical expert to provide an initial medical report’.[1]

In edition 187 (here) we announced that 23 Medical Reporting Organisations (MROs) and 14 Direct Medical Experts (DMEs) had been suspended. This was additional to the termination of a further 134 user agreements in November of 2016, in the wake of the new qualifying criteria coming into force. One of the various reasons for suspension was the creation of shell organisations, which would artificially increase the chances of an MRO being ‘randomly’ chosen via the search function for experts.

Recently, MROs have been tested under the latest qualifying criteria for accreditation. Top tier organisations must have the capacity to process at least 40,000 expert medico-legal reports per year, while new organisations have to demonstrate competent business strategy and operations for potentially managing the workload of an established organisation. As such, MROs must have contractual agreements in place with at least 250 individual active MedCo accredited experts who are located in 80% of the postcodes in England and Wales.

However, the Board have, in recent times, recorded increased incidents of unacceptable behaviour, exhibited by its members, such as unjustified complaints made of the auditors responsible for conducting necessary inspections. Emphasising the fact that this mistreatment will not be tolerated, the Board have used their privilege of oversight to release a statement:

'MedCo auditors have therefore been instructed that if, during the audit process, they are subjected to any behaviour they consider to be unacceptable they are, with the agreement of the head of the MedCo audit team, to abort the audit and report the matter to the board.'[2]

If and when an MRO is found to have acted improperly towards auditors, immediate suspension will follow, along with a £500 fine. The suspension will not elapse until a rescheduled inspection is carried out, which may take up to 3 months to arrange.

 

[1] ‘QUALIFYING CRITERIA FOR MEDICAL REPORTING ORGANISATIONS REGISTERED WITH MEDCO’ (24 October 2016 Ministry of Justice) <https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/medco-framework-review-call-for-evidence/results/revised-qualifying-criteria-24-10-16.pdf> accessed 24 August 2017.

[2] John Hyde, ‘Medco members warned about 'unacceptable behaviour' to auditors’ (23 August 2017 Law Society Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/medco-members-warned-about-unacceptable-behaviour-to-auditors/5062527.article> accessed 23 August 2017.