Businesses could be faced with NHS bills up to £34,000 and higher insurance premiums from next month if they fail to take all possible steps to minimise the risk of employee or customer injury, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has warned.
The Government will, in April, activate a dormant clause in the Health and Social Care Act 2003, which will require businesses to repay the NHS any costs incurred treating injured employees or customers who have successfully claimed compensation.
This will also apply to charities. This means that businesses will face not only the cost of paying compensation to the injured party but also the physical and possibly psychological cost of their NHS treatment.
Val Culley, ACCA spokesman for the West Midlands, said: "Given that calling an ambulance costs £150 and daily hospital treatment is nearly £600, the costs could soon mount up for businesses.
NHS claims will, however be capped at £34,000, so the most serious cases, such as longterm treatment for fractures or stress-related conditions, will not lead to an unlimited liability.
In addition, the Government intends that liability to pay NHS costs should be covered by any insurance contract which covered liability for the original compensation payment.
Inevitably, this new liability for insurers will ultimately have to be paid for by the business community in the premiums it pays, which are expected to increase by five to ten per cent as a result."