Whiplash has become 'multi-billion pound gravy train', says retired surgeon

Dr Charlie Marks, a retired neurosurgeon, has questioned the existence of chronic whiplash injuries
Dr Charlie Marks, a retired neurosurgeon, has questioned the existence of chronic whiplash injuries

CHRONIC whiplash injuries are a myth that have created a "multi-billion pound gravy train" for doctors, lawyers and victims, according to a retired surgeon.

Dr Charlie Marks from Cork who specialised in neurosurgery has admitted being "economical" with the truth when writing up reports for car crash victims claiming compensation for "non-existent" injuries.

The University College Cork lecturer singles out Lithuania and Greece, where there are virtually no claims and recovery from accidents takes a "matter of days".

"If we believe the Lithuanian studies, all whiplash is minor. Moderate or permanent whiplash is simply non-existent. A tiny proportion of collision victims may sustain a slipped disc in the spine as a result of their jolting injury (but) slipped discs occur in in fewer than one in 400 cases." he wrote in the Irish Times.

He points to the vast pots of money being made from claims in Western countries - from insurance firms to health professionals.

In the Republic, a claimant can receive €14,000 for minor whiplash while severe forms of the condition can lead to compensation payouts of more than €70,000. In the UK, the average award is €5,000 while France and Germany payouts are significantly lower at €2,000.

Meanwhile, whiplash claims in Northern Ireland have risen by more than 50 per cent in the past decade.

"Whiplash helps to provide a good living for a large number of professional people...(and) in some affluent countries is a big business, a multi-billion dollar gravy train for the medical profession, victims and lawyers," added Dr Marks.

"...Which brings me to those most responsible for the smooth operation of the whiplash gravy train: the medical professionals who write the reports detailing the mainly non-existent injuries.

"In my first 20 years as a consultant I wrote many reports which were economical with the trust - the truth being there was very little wrong with the vast majority of compensation claimants that I saw. I was moving with the herd."