The formal consultation process on a new bill designed to re-claim the medical costs of treating people suffering from industrial injuries and disease, including asbestos-related diseases, begins today. The bill is backed by Clydeside Action on Asbestos and is being taken forward as a member’s bill at Holyrood by MSP Stuart McMillan. The recovery of medical costs will allow the NHS to claw back the enormous expenditure associated with treating people who contracted industrial diseases such as mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Clydeside Action on Asbestos estimate that over 20 million pounds a year are spent by NHS Scotland diagnosing and treating people suffering from the horrendous effects of asbestos exposure. This bill will enable the NHS to recoup those costs from insurance companies who have already settled civil claims with victims. The costs of treatment will be calculated from a patient’s initial diagnosis.

There is currently a provision in Scots law for the NHS to claim from insurers the costs of treating people involved in accidents but no recovery system exists for those who have contracted industrial diseases. The fact that a recovery system is already in place for accidents means the bill’s introduction should be achieved with little difficulty.

Clydeside Action anticipates the bill will meet with very strong resistance from the Association of British Insurers, but we firmly believe that those who cause industrial disease should compensate our National Health Service for the strain that asbestos has placed on its finite resources.

 Phyllis Craig MBE, Director of Clydeside Action on Asbestos, said:

  “Recovering the costs of treatments for those who have sustained an Industrial Injury is an issue that we have been raising for some time.

“The costs to the NHS of treating people who have had industrial injuries or developed industrial injuries should be met by the insurers as part of the civil compensation process.

“Of course, a consultation on the recovery of NHS costs will stimulate discussion and debate and this is to be welcomed. My hope is that the Bill will ultimately recover all costs of treatments provided by the NHS, as this will mean that it will be the liability of insurers to meet the costs of diagnosing, managing and treating those who have suffered an injury or illness can be enshrined in law.”

Stuart McMillan MSP:

“For many years the NHS has been able to recover the costs of injuries caused by road traffic accidents – I would like to see that principle extended to industrial diseases. The NHS in Scotland should not be disadvantaged by paying the financial price for the care and treatment of individuals whose injuries have been caused by a person or organisation’s negligence.

“I believe that the NHS in Scotland should also be fairly compensated when it treats someone who suffers from an industrial disease.

“In my own constituency of Greenock and Inverclyde there is a dreadful legacy of industrial disease, particularly asbestos-related conditions. This legislation would allow the NHS in Scotland to recover much-needed cash, as millions are spent each year on treating industrial diseases which people have contracted through poor working practices and conditions.

“At the very least this legislation would drive up health and safety at work standards across Scotland.”

Recovery of NHS costs of treatment for those injured in accidents caused by the negligence of others has been a recognised concept in Scotland since the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999.

It is estimated that over £20million per year is spent by NHS Scotland diagnosing and treating people suffering from the horrendous effects of asbestos exposure. This bill will allow the NHS to recoup some of these costs and could be used to help future patients.

Gary Smith , Director of CAA and GMB Scotland Secretary:

“It is time for the insurance industry to meet their obligations. The costs of providing treatment would not exist if there had not been negligence on the part of the employer. I know that the GMB and wider Civic Scotland will use this consultation to give the proposed law their full support.”


Recovery of NHS costs of treatment for those injured in accidents caused by the negligence of others has been a recognised concept in Scotland since the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999. Initially, the scheme applied only to care needs arising from road traffic accidents however; this was extended in 2003 with the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 to include costs arising out of all types and causes of injury. Section 150 of that Act, however, restricts recovery to costs related treatment of an injury and not a disease.

90% of all asbestos-related claims are met by insurance companies. The remaining 10% will be met by self-insured or uninsured businesses still in operation and local authorities. It should be noted that the latter often have insurance in place for periods of time but may on occasion be required to meet the compensation from their own funds. These figures are supplied by Thompsons Solicitors who currently hold approximately 80% of the asbestos claims in Scotland.

Based on figures provided by healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of these asbestos diseases we estimate that the average costs for each of the above-noted conditions would be as follows:

Mesothelioma/Lung cancer

Based on the above the potential input being recovered for providing basic treatment/care for an individual with either mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer is underestimated at £54,180. The total underestimated figure for settled cases in 2012 is £3,955,140.

Asbestosis/Pleural thickening

For patients with asbestosis or pleural thickening, there is a potential to recover an underestimated £20,000 per individual. The total underestimated figure for settled cases in 2012 was £5,480,000.

Cost of Diagnosis

The above figures do not include initial investigations. Where an asbestos condition is identified on chest x-ray the individual will be sent for further investigations incurring further costs. These costs would be associated with all asbestos conditions including Pleural Plaque as although there are no costs for treating Pleural Plaques there are initial costs post diagnosis of this condition.

Based on our initial research, this suggests in total a potential of over 20 million pounds being recouped back into the NHS each year.

We fully anticipate that our proposal will be met with strong resistance from the Association of British Insurers. We have detailed our estimation of the potential costs of this scheme. This must be considered in the light of the significant profits made by the main three insurers which for the tax year ending April 2012 were as undernoted:

Aviva £60 Million
RSA £427 million
Allianz £191 million
Zurich £642 million

The consultation closes on Friday 22 June 2018.

For further information please contact Phyllis Craig MBE, Director of CAA: 07484903292.


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