In our January newsletter we covered the proposal of new legislation in Wales that could mean NHS medical costs for those suffering with asbestos related conditions would be refunded by negligent companies and/or their insurers.
It is estimated that the annual NHS bill for treating asbestos disease sufferers in Wales is more than £2m. The proposed Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases Bill hopes to recover this cost from employers or insurers following settlement of civil compensation claims. The Bill, if passed would recover funds from employers and insurers nationwide, provided suffers of asbestos conditions had been treated in Wales.
Unsurprisingly, insurance firms have opposed the proposal, saying that refunding the NHS is unnecessary and would be impractical.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that introducing further costs on top of asbestos compensation claims for suffers would require funds which had not been accounted for many years ago, when the policies were taken out. In order to fund compensation to the NHS, money would need to be recouped from current policyholders. The ABI also stated that the administration involved in recovering such costs would far outweigh any funds brought in.
Currently, the proposal is for money to be refunded to the Welsh Government rather than specific parts of the NHS and the ABI cannot see how this will benefit asbestos sufferers, or how it will reduce the financial burden on the NHS.
The Forum of Insurance Lawyers has also commented on the proposed Bill, criticising it for practical problems as well as suggesting it could be challenged under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Not everyone opposes the Bill, Marie Curie, a charity which provides palliative care for terminally-ill cancer patients, including those suffering with mesothelioma, is supporting the legislation. They recognise that the Bill could have the potential to provide significant funds back into the Welsh healthcare system.
Whatsmyasbestosclaimworth will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this Bill.