How Will the New Welsh Asbestos Bill Change Lives?


The Welsh NHS can now recover the cost of caring for asbestos cancer patients from the employers who exposed the victims to the disease.

Asbestos Related Diseases

How Did the Bill Come into Force?

Welsh Assembly Member Mick Antoniw was the bill's sponsor. He had previously worked with victims of asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma whilst working as a solicitor. He had witnessed the devastating and sometimes fatal effects that exposure to asbestos can have. He is also too aware of the cost to the Welsh NHS when it comes to treating such ill and vulnerable patients. Before the bill was passed he commented that "a cancer nurse costs £50,000 per annum" and that it was "only right" that this kind of cost build up should be shouldered by the employer who caused the injury.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Miller said he was "fully behind" the bill and even went on to say that its scope could be even widerapplying it to other industrial diseases and not just those that were related to asbestos.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) was less than amused with the bill when it was originally proposed, stating that they had "serious concerns" about its lawfulness. That said, the argument raised by the ABI has been tried before in Scotland, with no success. On top of this, the risk of changes in the law is something insurers have to consider when choosing how much their premiums are. It is not the government's fault that they failed to do this sufficiently.

What Does This Mean For the Future?

Asbestos related cancers often don't reveal themselves until 20 to 50 years after exposure to the substance. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult for solicitors to track down the cause if you have worked in numerous different jobs. However, despite this being a difficulty, a good solicitor will be able to help you get your previous employment records and work with you to construct a timeline of possible locations you were exposed.

Once you have won your case, it should be possible for the NHS to recover their costs because the fault has already been put at the feet of your employer. This is a real victory for the taxpayer, and a struggling health service.

Simpson Millar LLP's Phillip Gower commented: "The decision by the Welsh Assembly to introduce this bill is clearly sensible and will certainly help the NHS. I do hope the rest of the UK will look at this and introduce similar legislation".

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