Ex-NHS worker appeals for help after mesothelioma diagnosis

An ex-NHS auxiliary nurse is asking for help from former hospital staff in Cheshire and Staffordshire who can remember the presence of asbestos in two of the regions’ hospitals during the 1970s and 1980s.

The mother of two and grandmother was recently diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal lung cancer called mesothelioma. The cancer is caused by breathing in airborne asbestos dust and fibres. Mesothelioma causes more than 2,500 deaths in the UK each year.

Asbestos in UK hospitals

The former NHS worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was exposed while working at Stafford General Infirmary from 1971 to 1975 and Arclid Hospital, just outside Sandbach in Cheshire, from 1975 and throughout the 1980s.

Birchall Blackburn Law is helping the Cheshire mother to make an industrial disease compensation claim, which will help secure the care and treatment she needs that could prolong her life. The compensation could fund advanced immunotherapy treatments not currently available on the NHS.

Victoria Roberts, a specialist asbestos disease solicitor with Birchall Blackburn Law says: “Mesothelioma is a cruel cancer that takes decades to develop in the lining of the lungs after exposure to asbestos. After such a long time it can be difficult to uncover the evidence needed to prove exposure to asbestos dust, which is why we need help from former staff and contractors from Stafford General Infirmary and Arclid Hospital.”

During the early 1970s the Cheshire mother worked at Stafford General Infirmary in casualty and also on the orthopaedic wards. She recalls lagged pipework throughout the wards and corridors.

Arclid Hospital was an old building and a lot of refurbishment and maintenance work was carried out during the 1980s, which would have disturbed the asbestos.

Victoria says: “We’re looking for witnesses who can tell us about the presence of asbestos in these hospitals and when it was disturbed. Are you a former maintenance worker or local builder who might be able to assist or were you part of the nursing staff when the refurbishment and maintenance work took place? Your memories could make all the difference to the care that our client receives. Please get in touch.”

According to a BBC News Freedom of Information inquiry in 2018 about nine out of 10 NHS trusts say they have hospitals containing asbestos. Many older NHS hospitals built between the 1950s and 1980s contain asbestos because it was used for its fireproof and insulating properties.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), between 2011 and 2017, 128 people working in health and social care roles died from mesothelioma. The HSE has also launched 13 prosecutions against six NHS trusts for asbestos failings since 2010, including when maintenance staff removed asbestos ceiling tiles with no protective measures, allowing dust and debris to fall onto wards where patients and staff were present.

If you have any information about asbestos in Stafford General Infirmary or Arclid Hospital during the 1970s or 1980s please call Victoria Roberts at Birchall Blackburn Law on 01244 688 763 or email varoberts@birchallblackburn.co.uk. Your details will remain confidential.