Health survey questions efficiency of rehabilitation referrals

The majority of GPs, physiotherapists and consultants are referring more patients for rehabilitation than two years ago.

But only 32% said they believe early rehabilitation intervention would reduce the overall cost of personal injury.

A survey conducted by medical reports and services provider Premex showed that 70% of respondents would refer more patients for rehabilitation if extra services were available.

Premex said the report marked the first stage in an ongoing process to gather information from those in the medical profession.

The survey is run in conjunction with the Claims Standards Council (CSC) and Leicester University. The second stage of the research will look at the delivery of rehabilitation services.

"We are looking for the people who are at the sharp end of rehabilitation to give some indication of how effective it is," said Premex chief executive Simon Margolis.

"It is as yet unclear whether there is any benefit to giving rehabilitation at the low end of personal injuries. There is only anecdotal evidence."

He added: "We have taken the view that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach for rehabilitation. We are developing a product to sift out those who won't benefit from early intervention rehabilitation, to develop a more cost-effective approach."

A spokesman for the CSC said the results of the survey will be passed on to the government, to aid the development of a rehabilitation framework under the Department for Work and Pensions.

"The CSC is going to use this to show the government that this has direct ramifications for the rehabilitation debate," he said.

The CSC is also working on a consumer research project into personal injury, surveying 10,500 claimants.

' Lord Hunt of Wirral will chair a panel of leading insurance and claims experts to discuss the government's Compensation Bill at the Insurance Times Future of PI Claims seminar on 5 July.

Lord Falconer will follow up his ground-breaking speech at the last Future of Claims in November 2004, by outlining the government's position on compensation culture and the no-win, no-fee arena at this event.