Asbestos expert Helen Tomlin has called for a national audit into the problem
One of Thompsons Solicitors’ asbestos experts has commented on the ongoing issue of asbestos in hospitals following a BBC Look North investigation into the issue.
A BBC freedom of information request found that £3.5m had been paid out by NHS Trusts across the UK in asbestos compensation claims over the last five years. However, there are fears that this doesn’t paint the full picture as people across the UK continue to suffer as a result of asbestos conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening.
Helen Tomlin, a specialist asbestos solicitor at Thompsons’ Leeds office, commented on the BBC investigation: “Asbestos remains a huge threat for anyone working in buildings constructed before 1999, when the use of asbestos was made illegal. While industrial buildings are obvious areas for concern, public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, continue to have asbestos materials present in them.
“Our experience fits with what the BBC has uncovered. In the past two years alone, our asbestos specialists have secured at least £10m in compensation for hospital workers, and those who have been exposed to asbestos on hospital sites. Many of these people have been avoidably exposed to asbestos and their compensation may not be reflected in the figure above. We also fear there are many other people who have been exposed and made ill but have never made a compensation claim.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there were more than 2,500 mesothelioma deaths in 2016, while thousands more die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. It is anticipated that the number of asbestos fatalities will not peak until 2020.
"Until we have a better idea of the prevalence of asbestos in hospitals across the UK, we cannot begin to understand the scale of the problem. The only way this can be achieved is through a national audit, so that we can stop anyone else being exposed to asbestos in hospitals in the future."
Thompsons Solicitors is currently highlighting the stories of communities affected by asbestos exposure in the past with its #PastButPresent campaign.
Helen continued: “Until we have a better idea of the prevalence of asbestos in hospitals across the UK, we cannot begin to understand the scale of the problem. The only way this can be achieved is through a national audit, so that remedial work can begin, proper precautions can be put in place, and we can stop anyone else being exposed to asbestos in hospitals in the future.
“Unfortunately, there are thousands of people who have already developed asbestos diseases, for whom an audit will be too little, too late. However, this doesn’t mean the help stops there. Those who have been exposed, or have a loved one who has become ill, can be compassionately supported through a claim and signposted to support groups that can help people access benefits and advice on managing their illness.
“If you have developed an asbestos disease, regardless of whether you worked for the NHS or were contracted to work at a hospital, we can help – just get in touch with our specialists today.”
Asbestos disease diagnosis? Talk to us for advice and support on how to secure compensation.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we can support you with advice on how to make a claim.
The process will be explained in plain English and with no obligation – our priority is to provide you with the best, expert advice on whether you have a valid case for compensation, and to signpost you to further sources of support.
There are strict time limits applied to making a claim – usually three years from the date of diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if the exposure to asbestos took place – as it often does – decades ago, the three year time limit applies to the date of knowledge of diagnosis or date of death.
For further information, visit our How to Make A Compensation Claim page.