Survey shows widesread scepticism about diagnoses of condition


More than three quarters of healthcare professionals believe that the current system of diagnosing whiplash is ‘very open’ to fraud, according to a new survey.

The research, which was commissioned in the lead up to a conference held in London yesterday on the issue, says that 47% of GPs who currently provide medical personal injury reports believe that the current system encourages the diagnosis of whiplash for maximum gain. 

And it finds that 88% of GP’s believe that not every claim should be labelled as whiplash and a new grading system for injury should be used instead.

The conference was presented with new guidelines on diagnosing whiplash associated disorders, which were drawn up by senior professors and stakeholders based on the latest clinical research.

The guidelines will be presented to ministers in a bid t develop a new consensus on how whiplash should be diagnosed and treated.

The seminar’s chair Dr Nick Kendall, an expert in musculoskeletal problems, said: “With over 1600 whiplash claims a day, despite improved road safety and fewer reported crashes, something has clearly gone wrong with the current system.

Urgent attention needs to be focused on more robust diagnosis, the claims process, and suitable treatment pathway. This is consistent with the recent statement from Jack Straw that ‘whiplash diagnoses were delivered by third rate doctors, in the pay of claims management companies or personal injury lawyers’.

“The survey findings and seminar content will make uncomfortable reading for some. However, it is clear that the majority of clinicians providing reports and treatment are suggesting reasonable and practical alternatives to the current system, and these put the needs of injured people centre stage.  

“A change in the prevailing culture is necessary, and in in the interests of all stakeholders.  We need a culture that minimises opportunistic claims and fraud, and that delivers the best diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation by focusing on the best clinical outcomes and with considerably less emphasis on compensation”.