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Work accident news 20/02/2007

Injury compensation scheme to benefit NHS

New regulations have finally come into force that now allow the NHS to claim back the cost of treating people who have received personal injuries as a result of accidents at work.

The new ruling means that the NHS is likely to be able to recoup as much as 150 million a year, which will go someway towards reducing the huge financial deficit that the service operates under.

Previous to the implementation of this legislation, the NHS had to pay for the treatment of people injured at work out of their own pocket. Now however, the money can be claimed back if the injured party has been able to make a personal injury compensation claim against their employer.

If such a personal injury compensation claim is successful, the NHS can then recover the cost of treatment from the insurance company who provide cover for the employer.

Not surprisingly, insurers have met the legislation with some opposition and premiums are likely to be increased to cover the possibility of larger, more frequent payouts.

Because of the predicted rise in premiums, business groups are wary of the new scheme and a spokeswoman from the Federation of Small Businesses told reporters, "We are not here to defend businesses whose negligence causes accidents in the workplace, but over the vast majority of small businesses are conscientious employers and don't deserve to be set back by higher insurance premiums."

Despite the opposition, those within the NHS and the health industry have welcomed the plan.

Among them is Health Minister Andy Burnham, who said, "Although this scheme will undeniably raise useful additional sums of money for hospitals, it is not simply about raising more cash. It is based on the legal rights of the NHS.

"It is unacceptable that taxpayers have to pay for the medical treatment of someone injured at work simply because employers fail to take adequate steps to protect their workforce."

The regulations have been implemented in England, Scotland and Wales and follow a similar scheme set up to help the NHS cope with the cost of treating people injured in car accidents.

Around 115 million is currently thought to be claimed back by the NHS from motor insurance providers following personal injury compensation claims made by road users hurt in car crashes. The scheme, which was implemented some time ago, has been hailed as a great success and it is hoped that the new accident at work scheme will be equally successful.

For more information about the NHS, go to www.nhs.uk.