July 20, 2012

It’s a well known fact that a diagnosis of whiplash can earn you a tidy couple of £k. Hardly unreasonable then, that a trio of Sheffield GP practices have decided to start charging their NHS clients a modest fee of £21 for each diagnosis of this controversially non-existent cervical affliction.

Not only is the fee apparently legal (although it wouldn’t be if it was just 30p higher) it is massively more competitive than the (not strictly legal, at all) £250 charged per diagnosis by the Sheffiled GPs’ nearby competitor Wakefield-based Dr Muhammad Raheel Shaikh, according to reports in the Daily Mail earlier this year.

Bankstone News certainly knows where it will be going next time the bills pile up a bit and it can’t be arsed to get up off its arse and earn some arseing money for itself.

But might not self-righteous tittle-tattle and prurience merchants like the Daily Mail take a somewhat dim view of doctors charging for diagnosing potentially lucrative medical conditions in a not altogether self-evidently impartial manner?

It’s alright, the South Yorks Docs have come up with a sublimely ridiculous yet utterly watertight get-out clause – by claiming that charging twenty odd quid for a diagnosis that can net the diagnosee up to ten grand will deter would-be false claimants. It’s genius really.

Perhaps they could deter taking those who fancy taking a couple of weeks off with a fee of a tenner for anxiety, stress or depression – and maybe just a fiver for a couple of days with the flu. Deterring long-term disability claimants might require repeat diagnoses to reflect the seriousness/financial value of the condition.

They may yet find some patients asking for their whiplash money back, however. Craig Buzzword of the Motorised Accident Solicitors Society told Insurance Age this week that a GP’s diagnosis alone may not secure the desired pay-out. “When a person makes a claim, the court looks for a report from a non-treating expert,” the Craigster explained.

He went on, however, to deplore the actions of the minority of insurers who settle claims without seeking any medical evidence at all. “This must stop,” he decreed.

No doubt the fee-taking doctors would agree.

This is gonna cost ya, Punk!


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