Around 116,000 patients are suspected of exaggerating or feigning whiplash injuries to claim compensation fraudulently every month by NHS doctors, a new report has found.
The figure, which equates to around a million wasted NHS working hours a year, reveals that an increasing number of phony claims are being made by drivers following an accident – despite legislation being introduced two years ago to attempt to tackle the problem.
The study, from insurers LV, also 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.
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 total of 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.
LV claims director Martin Milliner said that verifying personal injury claims takes up a lot of time and places unnecessary pressure on an 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,” he said.
“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.”
To clamp down on the problem, the government has set up a new medical reporting panel, MedCo.
From 1st April, all those attempting to claim compensation for whiplash will have to get a medical report from an accredited MedCo professional.