The Liability for NHS Charges (Treatment of Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill has been withdrawn from the Scottish Parliament by Stuart McMillan MSP, the member who proposed this legislation. If enacted, this member’s bill would have allowed recovery by the state of charges incurred by the health service in the provision of treatment to pursuers with industrial disease but only where the cause of action arose after commencement of the proposed new law.
The reasons for the bill’s withdrawal are unknown though are likely to be connected with the request for further detailed costings made by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee in its Stage 1 report on the bill and also the shortage of time remaining in the current session of the Scottish Parliament before dissolution ahead of an election still scheduled for 6 May 2021. The committee had also highlighted “evidence in relation to the complexities involved in identifying industrial diseases, particularly in relation to co-morbid cases” and had “concerns this could result in unintended consequences.” The complexities arising in many industrial disease cases and unintended consequences of the legislation formed a central part of our response to the committee’s prior call for views on the bill.
A similar bill might be introduced to the next session of the Scottish Parliament however if any such legislation was proposed by a member then a further initial permission process would be needed. The incoming Scottish Government might also commit to such legislation in a programme for government however because Mr McMillan’s bill was withdrawn before it was debated at Stage 1 by the Scottish Parliament sitting in chamber, the positions of the Scottish political parties on it remains largely unknown.
Andrew Gilmour, Partner and Lorna Ferguson, Partner
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