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NHS charges for accidents would raise premiums, insurers warn

INSURERS THIS WEEK warned of hikes in construction premiums if the government presses ahead with plans to let the NHS claw back workplace accident treatment costs.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), charging companies' insurers for ambulance call out and hospital treatment will push premiums up by 7% to 8% across UK industry as a whole.

For high risk sectors such as construction, premium increases can be expected to be far higher, an ABI spokesman warned.

They would come on top of recent dramatic 40% to 50% increases in employers' liability insurance premiums.

The government has just closed a consultation on allowing the NHS to charge treatment costs to employers where liability for workplace accidents or occupational ill-health can be proven.

The scheme, allowing hospitals to reclaim up to £120M a year, was endorsed by minister of state for work Nick Brown this week (see feature, page20) and is supported by the Health & Safety Executive. Both see it as a way of penalising unsafe working practices.

But it has drawn fire from construction industry bodies the Construction Confederation and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (News last week).

They warned that raising the employers' insurance burden will wipe out profits and force many into bankruptcy. Other firms will dodge insurance altogether, going into the black economy.

Brown told NCE that firms should pass on the extra overhead to construction clients.

But client body the Confederation of Construction Clients said its members would object to paying for contractors' liabilities.

INFOPLUS

'Recovery of National Health Service costs' can be found at www. doh. gov. uk/consultations

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