ROAD TRAFFIC (NHS CHARGES) BILL
Memorandum by the Department of Health
1. When a person receives treatment at a hospital
(other than one run for profit) for injuries sustained in a road
traffic accident and subsequently makes a successful claim for
compensation for personal injury against the holder of a compulsory
motor vehicle insurance policy, then the hospital can require
the compensator to meet some of the costs of the victim's treatment.
2. This provision has existed in road traffic
legislation for more than sixty years and is currently found in
sections 157 and 158 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It is not however
supported by any central administrative arrangements for collection
of the charges due.
3. The purpose of the Bill is to provide a national
administrative system to ensure that all cases in which recoupment
of NHS charges is possible are identified and that the charges
are collected and passed on to the hospitals which provided treatment.
It also provides for the method of calculating the cost to the
NHS to be changed. A tariff of charges will be established, simplifying
cost calculation. Charges will also reflect more closely the actual
costs of treatment.
4. The collection of charges will be undertaken
on the Secretary of State's behalf by the Department of Social
Security's Compensation Recovery Unit. This will allow NHS charge
recovery work to be carried out in parallel with the existing
system for recovery of state benefits. The legislative framework
of the two systems, including regulation making powers, is therefore
5. The Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill contains
21 clauses in which there are powers to make delegated legislation.
These powers are almost entirely concerned with detailed operational
issues which will control the day to day administration of charge
collection. For example the payment of NHS charges falls due when
a compensation payment is made. It is therefore necessary to have
powers to deal with the variations which can occur such as payments
into court, interim payments, structured settlements etc. To allow
for all these variants on the face of the Bill would result in
primary legislation of great complexity. As payment of compensation
is a continually evolving area it is necessary to have the flexibility
to cope with new or amended types of payment.
6. In addition we have provided for the first
time rights of review and appeal against the amount of NHS charges.
In England and Wales appeals will be heard by the appeal tribunals
which also hear appeals in benefit recovery cases. In Scotland,
where access to the appeal tribunals will be complicated by devolution,
appeals will be heard by tribunals specifically established for
7. Including detailed provisions covering operational
issues and procedures for appeals would also lead to the primary
legislation becoming cluttered. We therefore propose to leave
to secondary legislation technical matters and matters where flexibility
is necessary. For these reasons the Government considers that
the matters to be dealt with by secondary legislation under this
Bill are better dealt with in that manner than being included
in primary legislation. This applies in varying degrees to all
the powers in the Bill except where the description of the power
in this Memorandum makes it clear that other considerations are
of equal or greater significance.
8. Affirmative resolution procedures are thought
to be appropriate only in exceptional cases. The powers in this
Bill, in common with all other NHS legislation, provide that regulations
should be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
9. A summary of the powers contained in the Bill
is attached as Annex A to the Memorandum.
5 The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997;
The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Regulations 1997 [SI
1997/2205]; The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits)(Appeals)
Regulations 1997 [SI 1997/2237] Back