The new UK National Health Service injury costs recovery scheme, which allows the health service to claim back money for treating patients who have been awarded personal injury compensation, could see more than GBP150 million being put back into patient care, according to Andy Burnham, minister of state at the UK Department of Health.

While UK hospitals could already recover the costs of treating patients injured in road traffic accidents who have successfully claimed compensation for their injuries, the new scheme means that the National Health Service (NHS) will be able to recover costs from insurance companies for treating patients in all cases where personal injury compensation is paid.

The total cost to the NHS in treating personal injury cases other than road traffic accidents is estimated to be in the region of GBP170 million to GBP190 million each year, but this should fall dramatically if the new scheme is successful as it dictates that NHS costs are payable by the insurer that pays the compensation.

This looks set to be highly lucrative for the health service as, since the road traffic accident scheme came into operation in 1999, it recovers around GBP115 million per year for the NHS. Mr Burnham commented, however, that the new scheme is about more than just money.

He stated: It is based on the legal rights of the NHS and the responsibilities of those to blame, adding, It is unacceptable that taxpayers have to pay for the medical treatment of someone injured at work simply because employers fail to take adequate steps to protect their workforce.

He concluded that hospitals will now be able to cover the costs of treatment on an individual basis and will be free to reinvest the money into improved services as they see fit.