Seamus Ward gave an interesting report on the new Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill ('One for the road', pages 22-25, 14 January).

However, the assumption that road accident victims are either seriously injured - and will incur the maximum cost permissible - or that only an emergency treatment fee could have been reclaimed - implying that the victim has only minor injuries - is simplistic.

Road accident victims treated in acute hospitals will present with a range of conditions and severity.

Each will have different associated costs.

Not all victims will pursue a personal injury claim against the party at fault, and hence the NHS will not be able to reclaim the costs of treatment in every case.

A more sophisticated approach to modelling the cost of treating road accident victims would identify the number of accidents of all severity, allow for varying levels of those pursing personal injury claims and base its cost predictions on national reference costs, taking into account the ceilings governing the value of maximum claims.

Given the complexities, it is understandable that the government has chosen to introduce a more centralised approach to reclaim costs from insurers.

We learn that the Department of Health estimates that this function will cost£1.4m a year. Given that it is possible to model and analyse the number of accidents and their associated costs, a central levy would be more efficient and cost-effective to run.

David Harvey

Medical statistician

Bacon and Woodrow

Actuaries and Consultants