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Wales Paves The Way For NHS Asbestos Cost Recovery From Guilty Employers

The Welsh assembly has backed a law to recover up to £1 million of the costs to the NHS of treating Welsh asbestos patients from businesses or insurers.  

The bill's sponsor, AM Mick Antoniw, a former trade union lawyer, said it would help people whose lives had been blighted by "this terrible disease".

Pic: Welsh National Assembly logoSpeaking to the BBC, he said:

"It is only right that medical costs incurred by the NHS should be recovered from those who caused the disease and used to give more support to asbestos victims and their families - for example, a cancer nurse costs £50,000 per annum. We could employ an additional 20 cancer nurses or a mixture of cancer nurses and counsellors or additional research into the cause and treatment of asbestos disease. It is my belief this new Welsh law can make a significant improvement to the quality of life of those whose life is blighted by this terrible disease."

The Welsh Conservatives opposed the bill while claiming they were “fully behind” the principle of the Bill, but voted against it because of its limited scope.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said:

“We believe it is wrong simply to take out asbestos-related diseases and not apply this Bill more widely to other industrial diseases”.

The insurance industry has tried to block the bill, questioning whether the move is within the assembly's powers. The Association of British Insurers wrote to the assembly Presiding Officer and the secretary of state for Wales with a number of what it called "serious concerns" about the bill's lawfulness, but these were rejected. Similar recovery powers exist for some other NHS costs, including traffic injuries.

Source: TUC Risks


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