Employers slam ‘flawed’ NHS costs’ recovery plan

Dec 17 2004 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Government plans to allow the NHS to recover from employers the costs of treating workers who have suffered accidents or illness have been branded “fundamentally flawed”.

Ministers want to extend the current scheme, where the NHS can recover the cost of treating road traffic accident victims from insurance companies, to workplace injuries and illness.

But employers, already concerned about steep rises in employer liability insurance, have reacted angrily to the proposals.

The plan was first announced in November – with consultation on it ending today - and the Government now says it wants to press ahead with the extended scheme, which it hopes will raise £250 million for the NHS.

But manufacturers’ organisation the EEF warned such a move would penalise all employers for the poor performance of a few.

Its introduction would also be inappropriate until the Office of Fair Trading had concluded its recently announced review of liability insurance, it argued.

The compulsory nature of employers’ liability insurance meant that all employers, even those with the best health and safety records, would effectively be forced to subsidise those with the worst, said the EEF.

Gary Booton, EEF director of health, safety and environment, said: “We have no argument with the ‘polluter pays’ principle which lies behind these regulations, simply we challenge whether this can actually be achieved with the current proposals.

“By recovering costs from the insurance pool into which all employers are compelled to pay, the government is letting negligent bosses off the hook and forcing those with good health and safety records to subsidise the worst,” he added.

However, in one area at least there had been some progress during the consultation period, said EEF.

NHS costs associated with occupational diseases, originally planned to be included in the scheme, will now be outside the scope of the rules.

The extended scheme is now set to begin in April next year.