Committee backs Bill which would compensate NHS for workplace illnesses


A Bill which would allow the NHS to recover costs relating to industrial disease has been backed by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

The Liability for NHS Charges (Treatment of Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill, a Member’s Bill brought in by Stuart McMillan MSP, would allow the Scottish Government to recover the cost of NHS treatment from an employer or previous employer whose negligence resulted in an industrial disease.

The Committee supports the general aims of the Bill and is satisfied that future Covid-19 related illness and mental health illnesses will be covered by the definition of industrial disease set out in the legislation.

However, the Committee still has questions over the administration of the scheme and how NHS costs will be collected from employers. More detail on this area of the legislation is needed to understand how much the scheme will cost. The Committee expects the Government and the Member to work together to obtain more robust information on the financial implications of the Bill.

Speaking as the report was published, Committee Convener Lewis Macdonald MSP said:

“When employees become ill due to their work, it is expected that their employer will have to compensate them. The spirit of this Bill is that it is right that the costs to the health service are also reimbursed.

“The Committee believes this legislation will not only help to reduce industrial diseases but also lessen the financial burden on both taxpayers and NHS. We do however believe there is a need for more clarity on how this scheme will be carried out and how much it will cost.”


The Liability for NHS Charges (Treatment of Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on the 9 March 2020 by Stuart McMillan MSP, the Member in Charge.

The Bill was referred to the Health and Sport Committee on 18 March 2020. Both the Finance Committee (in relation to the FM) and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee consider aspects and their views are reported in the report.

It seeks to amend Part 3 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 (the 2003 Act) to bring NHS costs incurred in treating industrial diseases within its scope, allowing Scottish Ministers to recover these costs from those whose negligence caused these diseases.


Industrial disease is defined as — 

• Arising out of the employment of the injured person;
• Arising out of the employment of any person associated with the injured person
• Including diseases that confer eligibility for employment injury assistance, as defined under regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under section 33 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.

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