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January 19, 2018

Kelman hails bid to recoup asbestos costs

Legislation lodged at the ­Scottish Parliament could pave the way for health boards to claw back the costs of diagnosing and treating the victims of asbestos-related disease from former employers. Campaigners claim incurable diseases caused by ­exposure to asbestos, such as mesothelioma and pleural plaques, cost the NHS in Scotland about £20 million a year.

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Kelman, who has campaigned for compensation for asbestos victims since the 1990s, said: “It’s a step closer to getting industry to take responsibility, and for all those employers who used asbestos knowing what they were exposing the workers to. That would be a big improvement, but I’m sure as we speak the lawyers for insurance companies will be doing everything in their power to avoid it.”

Kelman has previously ­criticised the legal hurdles facing sufferers, saying the “burden of proof is on the victim to prove that you are a victim”.

Thompsons Solicitors, which is acting in about 80% of asbestos cases in Scotland, said it was representing about 1200 people at any one time. A spokesman for the firm said: “There are more cases coming forward than ever before from people who were historically exposed – hospital cleaners, school cleaners and so on.”

The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Scotland) Bill was lodged yesterday by West of Scotland MSP Stuart McMillan. Similar legislation was passed by the Welsh Assembly last November, but has been stymied by legal questions over how to enact it.

The NHS has been able to recover the costs of treating the victims of accidents since 2003, where an individual made a successful claim against a third party. However, this principle does not cover diseases.

Mr McMillan said: “There is a substantial financial cost to the NHS in diagnosing and managing asbestos-related conditions and this is something that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

However, he added that he expects strong resistance to the move from insurers.

Dave Moxham, deputy leader of the STUC, which is backing the new legislation, said: “The NHS and palliative care services currently have to meet these costs from their own overstretched funds. It is time for the employers and the insurance industry to meet their obligations and reimburse the cost of the medical care, as these costs would not exist if there had not been negligence on the part of the employer.”

Alan Kirk, a surgeon and ­director of the pressure group Clydeside Action, estimated the cost for diagnosing and managing mesothelioma – a tumour on the lung – at £60,000 a patient.

He said: “If these sums can be recovered as part of the civil compensation case, funds are going back into the NHS to help to care for the Scottish population.”

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Kelman hails bid to recoup asbestos costs

Asbestos law could net Wales NHS £1m a year

A new Bill passed by the National Assembly for Wales will enable the Welsh NHS to recover the medical costs of treating diseases caused by asbestos.

Wrexham Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths has welcomed the Bill which will now complete the final stages of the legislative process and become law.

It is estimated the new law could raise up to £1 million a year for the Welsh NHS.

The Bill will place an obligation on employers who exposed workers to deadlyasbestos and insurance companies, requiring 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. The rare but deadly cancer Mesothelioma is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos and it is estimated the human cost will continue for decades with the peak in mortality not expected until at least 2015.

Lesley Griffiths AM for Wrexham commented: “The cost of treating asbestos related diseases places significant financial strain on the Welsh NHS so this Bill is a major step forward and will offer greater support to the victims and their families.”

“The new law will help raise awareness and understanding of the dangers of asbestos and improve the quality of life for those who have suffered from the terrible diseases.”

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Asbestos law could net Wales NHS £1m a year

Asbestos concerns expose flaws in monitoring hazardous material in our schools, claim campaigners

Wales is in danger of falling down a “devolutionary crack” in regulations over the monitoring of asbestos on schools, campaigners have warned.

The Right To Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign has warned existing regulations issued in England do not apply to Wales, meaning neither educational or health and safety guidance would apply.

It comes ahead of a reception held by asbestos activists in the Senedd on Tuesday to warn of the dangers of asbestos in schools, set up following the closure of a school due to a report in October finding pupils were at risk from the material.

The school is due to reopen in September after Caerphilly councillors unanimously approved £1m of work to remove asbestos from the site.

But the Right To Know campaign – which is targeting the Welsh Government and local councils – is calling for a national online register of asbestos levels across Welsh schools.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews asked all 22 Welsh councils for assurances on the content of asbestos in their schools in the wake of Cwmcarn’s closure, later saying he was not satisfied Welsh councils were meeting their legal requirements.

But he has insisted that responsibility over monitoring of asbestos in schools lies with local authorities, and the Welsh Local Government Association has issued guidelines on the management of asbestos to local authorities.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams had called for a national audit of asbestos after the Cwmcarn closure.

The building material is known to be carcinogenic and is linked with a variety of cancers and respiratory diseases – though it can be considered safe if it remains structurally undisturbed.

Cenric Clement-Evans, spokesman for the campaign and lawyer with Cardiff-based NewLaw, said the campaign wanted the Welsh Government to take a lead on the issue.

“Now our concern is that the Guidance on Asbestos Management in Schools, issued by the Department of Education in October 2012 in England does not apply in Wales,” he said.

“As a result, there is a real danger of Welsh schools falling into a ‘devolutionary crack’ between the areas of health and safety and education.

“I would entirely agree with the international expert Professor Julian Peto who said in his evidence before the Education Select Committee at Westminster: ‘All that matters is whether or not kids are breathing in asbestos and, until you find that out, everything else is hot air.’”

Under the Right To Know proposals, parents would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place where it is present.

The Senedd event sponsor – Tory Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay, who chairs the cross-party group on asbestos – said: “The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is calling for a database that would result in increased transparency, empowering parents and teachers to hold their local authority to account regarding their children and their safety while in the classroom.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said the management of asbestos was a non-devolved matter, with the responsibility for its management lying with the Health and Safety Executive, applying across Wales and England.

She said: “As the guidance issued by the Department for Education is based on this legislation, it can apply equally to schools in Wales.

“We are, however, currently in discussion with the Department for Education and are developing our own guidance on the management of asbestos in schools.

“Local authorities or schools governing bodies in Wales have a legal responsibility to have up-to date records on the location and condition of asbestos containing material and that appropriate management plans are in place to detail how the risks from these materials will be managed.

“Members of the public may approach local authorities or governing bodies to access this information.”

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Asbestos concerns expose flaws in monitoring hazardous material in our schools, claim campaigners

Asbestos Advice Helpline Backs Asbestos Law

Asbestos Advice Helpline, a leading organisation to assist those affected by Asbestos related diseases, has today announced that they fully back the newly announced Welsh law bid to recover NHS expenses from the insurers of those responsible for exposure to asbestos.

London, UK (PRWEB UK) 20 December 2012

Asbestos Advice Helpline

has today announced that they are in full support of the newly announced

Welsh law bid

to recover expenses in order to help sufferers of

asbestos related diseases

.

The bill proposes letting the NHS seek compensation from the insurers and companies who caused the exposure in asbestos related disease sufferers. This would be similar to the way that sufferers of asbestos related diseases can claim on their own, but the money would go into the NHS to help fund treatment and care for sufferers of asbestos exposure.

The proposed bill has an explanatory memorandum which states:

“The Bill’s aim is to enable the Welsh Ministers to recover from a compensator (being a person by or on behalf of whom a compensation payment is made to or in respect of a victim of asbestos related disease), certain costs incurred by the NHS in Wales in providing care and treatment to the victim of asbestos related disease.”

The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Disease (Wales) Bill has been opened to consultation after being brought forward by the Pontypridd Assembly Member Mick Antoniw. The bills aim is to gain compensation to be paid into NHS trusts to help with the payment of treatments caused by asbestos related industrial diseases and help take the strain off the already stretched NHS. Wales has a high number of asbestos related disease victims and the number of those diagnosed is set to continue for some time due to the long incubation period for diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Currently, sufferers of asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos related lung cancer can claim compensation through Asbestos Advice Helpline from the companies who were responsible for the exposure. If the bill were to go through, it could mean that the burden of asbestos related diseases would be eased for the NHS, with money helping fund treatment and research into the diseases. The claim for compensation to be paid to the NHS would be made after an individual has made a successful personal compensation claim, so would not reduce the amount of a successful claim for an asbestos related disease.

Government statistics show that 4,500 people a year die from asbestos related diseases, so the addition of funding for the NHS would help sufferers get the treatment they need. It would also help the existing funding be put to different uses, thus helping everyone who uses the NHS.

If you have been affected by asbestos related diseases and feel you may be entitled to make a claim against those responsible; please do not hesitate to contact Asbestos Advice Helpline on 0800 884 0300 or through their website here.

Ian Harbridge
Asbestos Advice Helpline
0800 884 0300
Email Information

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Asbestos Advice Helpline Backs Asbestos Law

School asbestos funding warning

Uses of Asbestos

Cwmcarn High SchoolMore than 900 pupils have missed classes since Cwmcarn High School was closed on Friday

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A teaching union has warned of the possible cost implications as it welcomed a move to make Welsh councils report on all schools’ asbestos levels.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews issued the order after Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county closed unexpectedly due to asbestos concerns.

The NASUWT said it was glad the matter was being taken seriously.

But it warned of “massive issues” about raising funds to remove the material at a time of education cuts.


Start Quote

There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos”

End QuoteChris KeatesNASUWT general secretary

The 900-pupil secondary school was closed after workmen spotted the potentially hazardous material.

The school will partially reopen on Friday – a week after its sudden closure – with year 12 and 13 pupils told they should report to the school’s performing arts centre at 08:30 BST.

Year 11 pupils will join them back in the school’s new block on Monday.

A meeting will be held the following day to discuss options for the remainder of the pupils.

On Tuesday Mr Andrews said he had asked all local authorities to establish the extent of asbestos in their schools and report back next week.

Mr Andrews called the situation at Cwmcarn difficult and said councils had clear legal duties to do annual surveys.

He said Public Health Wales was providing a health-based risk assessment, and Caerphilly council was looking at a number of options to accommodate pupils as a priority.

‘Major costs’

In response, Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “We welcome the fact that the Welsh government is taking this potentially life-threatening situation seriously.”

But he added: “There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos, as this would incur major costs at a time of savage cuts to education budgets.

“The NASUWT would wish to support the Welsh government in seeking funding for this essential measure.”

Rex Phillips of NASUWT Cymru called for the Welsh government to ensure that councils are provided with a programme for the safe removal of asbestos from schools over time, starting with the schools that present the most risk.

He said: “The only way to make our schools safe is to remove asbestos from them but we recognise the cost implications this raises and that this cannot be done overnight.”

NASUWT Cymru has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the discovery of asbestos at Cwmcarn.

The union said it wanted the HSE to confirm that correct procedures are adhered to.

The HSE has said it was looking to see whether there were grounds for a full investigation.

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School asbestos funding warning