Legal briefing

The government is considering a Law Commission recommendation that the NHS should be able to claim the cost of treating anyone injured by someone else's negligence from whoever was responsible for the injuries.

The right to recoup the cost, up to a limit of£10,000, would come into play if the accident victim received damages.

Whoever paid the damages - in most cases insurers - would have to reimburse the NHS as well.

Collection could be undertaken by the compensation recovery unit, set up to recoup from insurers the social security benefits paid to accident victims while awaiting compensation.

The unit has already had its role expanded to recoup money spent by the NHS on treating road traffic victims under the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999.

The government has confirmed it is looking at the issue.