- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Categories: Latest News, Press Releases
Earlier this week, Swansea East AM Mike Hedges voted in favour of passing a landmark piece of legislation designed to support asbestos victims along with allow the Welsh NHS to recover medical costs from neglectful employers and insurance companies.
Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill, which was tabled by Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw as a Private Member’s Bill, will enable Welsh NHS costs for asbestos victims’ treatment to be recovered from negligent employers or their insurers. This could result in raising up to £1m a year for the Welsh NHS. The Bill will place an obligation on employers who exposed workers to deadly asbestos, compelling them to reimburse the NHS in Wales for the cost of treating those asbestos victims.
Hundreds of Welsh workers suffer from asbestos related diseases, and exposure to asbestos has caused thousands more deaths over the past decades. Many victims suffer prolonged and often progressive ill health, leading to premature death. It is estimated that the human cost will continue for decades with the peak in mortality not expected until at least 2015.
Speaking on the Private Member’s Bill, local AM Mike Hedges said:
“I am proud to support the Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases Bill and stand up for the many victims and their families who have been blighted by this terrible disease.
“It is extremely disappointing that the only party not to vote in favour of the Bill is the Conservatives. Instead, the Tories decided to join the side of the insurance companies as opposed to the victims and families. I know which side I’m on!”
Mick Antoniw, Labour AM for Pontypridd said:
“For many of those suffering from asbestos disease, negligence and breaches of health and safety law by former employers can be established in civil actions for compensation brought by sufferers and their families.
“The cost of treating asbestos disease places a huge financial strain on an already over-stretched NHS in Wales. I believe that where an employer has been negligent and civil compensation is due NHS Wales should be reimbursed with the cost of medical treatment.
“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”