The survey was conducted among 700 Doctors.net.uk members in September for ITV Daybreak, which gathered data from other sources showing that claims for whiplash have risen by a third in the past three years while car accidents notified to the police have decreased by 16%.
Anecdotal comments about the Doctors.net.uk poll which were posted on the network’s forum by members included: ‘In my A&E and GP experience, nearly 80-90% of patients exaggerate and some of them openly accept that as well. They are not even interested in advice or painkillers’
One doctor said: ‘I did an audit of this when I was a SHO in A&E. In approximately 120 cases, only two had perceived the accident to be their fault, 118 thought it was someone else’s fault. I think you could conclude from this that this is an injury which does happen, but is extremely over exaggerated or faked.’
Another doctor said they had seen a lot of patients admitting that they had come simply to have the accident documented for insurance purposes and ‘it was clear on objective examination that their symptoms were not as bad as they were making out’.
Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive of Doctors.net.uk, said of the results: ‘While it's long been suspected that people exaggerate whiplash injuries, the information we've gathered from doctors is shocking and proves the hypothesis. As well as inflating everyone's insurance premiums, this must be putting an unwarranted burden on the UK's stretched healthcare system.’
Whiplash cost insurers £2 billion last year, according to the AA, and adds around £90 to the cost of typical car insurance.