Stuart McMillan MSP (SNP) has today (Monday) reacted to the news that The Supreme Court said Welsh ministers had no right to impose charges to fund the NHS, and insurers should not be given extra liabilities for asbestos exposure which long predated the bill.
The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Scotland) Bill, being brought forward by Mr McMillan, will allow the NHS to claw back the enormous costs associated with caring for people who contracted industrial diseases like Mesothelioma which is caused by exposure to asbestos. The bill is backed by Scotland’s leading asbestos charity, Clydeside Action on Asbestos
Speaking afterwards, Mr McMillan said;
“Scotland has a successful track record of supporting people with asbestos related conditions, through the passing of numerous acts including the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009.
“I am aware of the decision today by the Supreme Court regarding the Recovery of Costs Bill that progressed through the Welsh Assembly.
“I am pursuing a Recovery of Costs Bill through the Scottish Parliament whose powers are greater than those in Wales.
“I am confident that Scotland can deliver a successful outcome but those of us involved in the Scottish bill will pay close attention to the judgment of the Supreme Court, nonetheless.”
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 require 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 health care 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:
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.
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
People wishing to take part in the consultation should visit http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/85164.aspx