Welsh Assembly considers Asbestos Bill

Welsh Assembly considers Asbestos Bill

The Welsh assembly are currently considering a new Bill entitled The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill which If passed, the could mean that Companies (or their insurers) will have to pay to the NHS costs incurred in treating people with mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases.

Mick Antoniw, Assembly member for Pontyprydd put forward the Bill.  He is a former solicitor who represented victims of mesothelioma prior to becoming an assembly member.  He argues that if an employer is to blame for exposing an employee to asbestos and subsequently causing an asbestos related disease, then that employer should also fund the costs of treating that former employee.

Speaking before the assembly last week, Mr Antoniw said “The Bill will enable the Welsh government to recover the cost of the medical treatment in cases where legal liability for the disease has been established.

“It is intended that the funds recovered will be used to provide additional assistance to asbestos victims and their families.”

As around 2,000 people die of mesothelioma in the UK each year, the money raised will of great assistance to the many sufferers and their families.

The dangers of working with or being exposed to asbestos fibres has been known for many years and asbestos is still being found in buildings to this day.

Mr Antoniw hopes that the bill will restore equality between the public and private sectors; if an asbestos victim has had private medical care, this can be recovered in their claim for compensation.  The Bill would allow the Welsh Assembly to recover costs from insurers and employers on behalf of the NHS.

The Bill has received support from Wales TUC, Unite the Union and GMB.  The Health and Social Care committee is currently considering the bill.  Although the Bill is in the first stage of the legislative process, it could become law next year. This will ultimately cost insurers millions if this Act of Parliament is passed.

Every day people claim compensation the UK and Wales for injuries such as pleural thickening, mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis as a result of being exposed often up to 40 or more years ago to asbestos in the courses of their employment.