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Business could face asbestos care bill

The BMA has said it awaits with interest details of a law that could force companies to pay the NHS for treating workers exposed to asbestos.

Pontypridd Welsh Labour AM Mick Antoniw wants companies to be forced to reimburse the NHS for the costs of treating employees who develop conditions such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. This could raise up to £3m a year.

Mr Antoniw has tabled the Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill as a private members bill, which is due to be discussed in the Welsh Assembly this week.

He said: ‘If you have an employer or insurer who has accepted that they are liable and they are to blame, then why is it they will pick up costs for the private sector but not the public sector?

‘We envisage we could raise around £2m to £3m a year for support for victims for things such as nursing care.’

Hard-pressed NHS

He added: ‘It might not sound a lot, but it will really help a hard-pressed NHS to help treat people with a disease that has a particular legacy in Wales.’

BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said he would be taking the proposals to the BMA Welsh council's legislative subcommittee for discussion.

Speaking before the Welsh Assembly debate, Dr Lewis said it was an important principle that people suffering from conditions brought on by exposure to asbestos should be appropriately compensated.

He added: ‘This is an interesting legislative proposal in terms of seeking redress through organisations, and it will be interesting to see how these issues are debated.’