Whiplash: from government reform to physiotherapy practice #physiotalk Monday 6th March

At the end of last year the UK government consulted on proposed changes to personal injury claims in England and Wales, with the aim of tacking increasing costs to motorists. On Monday 6th March at 8pm UK time we’ll be holding a tweetchat on what these changes might mean for patients, physiotherapists, and physiotherapy services.

Whiplash

whiplash3Put simply – whiplash is a type of neck injury caused by sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways (NHS Choices); often reported by people following acceleration/deceleration injury to the neck, most commonly via a road traffic accident. Symptoms include neck pain, neck stiffness, dizziness, headache and arm pain. Whiplash is also associated with disability, decreased quality of life, and psychological distress (Sterling 2014).

As an injury associated with motoring accidents whiplash is also a compensable injury, this can add extra complexity to patient care and physiotherapy management – and has included multiple government attempts to reform compensation claims processes over recent years.  

Reforming soft tissue injury claims

whiplash4In November 2016 the UK government carried out a consultation on measures to disincentivise minor soft tissue injury claims & arrangements for personal injury claims in England and Wales
(gov.uk
). This includes a package of measures to disincentivise minor, exaggerated and fraudulent road traffic accident (RTA) related soft-tissue injury claims. The vast majority of these claims are related to whiplash.

This hard hitting consultation is aimed at tackling the compensation culture associated with whiplash claims  Despite previous government reforms, improvements in vehicle safety and a reduction in the number of reported accidents, the number of personal injury claims following a RTA remains 50% higher than 10 years ago. The government predicts the reform package will save the industry around £1bn a year, passed on to consumers through reduced motor insurance premiums.

But how will this impact on patient care? What are the potential implications for physiotherapy services, assessment and treatment?

Questions to think about:

  1. Did you read the consultation paper? What did you think? What are the key implications for physiotherapy?
  2. What do the proposed changes mean for physiotherapy assessment, treatment and ongoing reassessment?
  3. How could the proposed changes influence patient presentation and access to physiotherapy?
  4. What might the proposed changes mean in terms of demand for earlier physiotherapy assessment and intervention?
  5. What can we learn from other countries in terms of reforming compensation claims around whiplash?
  6. What more can we do to promote high quality evidence-based physiotherapy for people with whiplash?

Pre-chat reading:

 

Find the phrase ‘Guidelines not tramlines’

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