- Ms M had not been provided with any instruction, education or training on the risks of working with or near asbestos
- Failed to ensure that the corridor was kept free of dust/asbestos dust/fibres or adequately swept/cleaned/vacuumed
- There wasn’t enough natural ventilation to stop the build-up of asbestos dust in the walkway
Ms M was working as a care assistant when she started feeling breathless while walking up and down the stairs at work. She went to see her GP and was referred for a chest X-ray and a biopsy. She was shocked to be told that she was suffering with mesothelioma - an asbestos-related cancer of the lining of the lungs.
Ms M had to give up work shortly after receiving her mesothelioma diagnosis, and had to rely on help and support from friends as she lived on her own.
How We Helped
Ms M contacted our Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free claims assessment, so she could discuss her situation with a member of our expert team. We felt she had a strong claim, and her case was taken on by Solicitor Simon Rosser who specialises in mesothelioma compensation.
Simon put together a picture of her working history to establish exactly when and where she may have been exposed to asbestos. We found that she was exposed to low levels of asbestos while working at the now-closed Ipswich Hospital as a student nurse in the mid-1970s.
While working at the hospital, Ms M would often use a shortcut along a corridor between two buildings which also housed the boiler room to get back to the nurse’s quarters, particularly when it was cold and wet, as this meant she could avoid a long walk outside.
She would use the nurse’s quarters at least once a day, as this was where the lockers were and it was prohibited to wear her nurse’s uniform outside and off the premises.
The corridor leading from the boiler house had very low ceilings of about 6 or 7 feet high and thick lagged pipes directly overhead. The lagging was in a poor state of repair, with lots of broken dusty bits hanging down. During her time at the hospital, she never saw any cleaners in this area, and there was nowhere for the dust that had built up to escape to.
Simon gathered witness statements to back up her account of conditions at the hospital, and also arranged for Ms M to be assessed by an independent medical specialist. The expert who carried out the assessment prepared a report outlining her condition, and said it’s likely to get worse over time, with Ms M suffering greater pain and breathlessness and needing more care from others.
In addition, Simon investigated the financial consequences of Ms M’s mesothelioma diagnosis, as she’d lost her main source of income when she had to stop working, and had many day-to-day living costs to meet.
Approaching the NHS Litigation Authority
Simon approached the NHS Litigation Authority and the Department of Health and Social Care with details of our mesothelioma claim, and argued they didn’t do enough to keep her and the hospital building safe. For example:
As a result, Ms M couldn’t avoid inhaling asbestos dust when going through the walkway, which would usually take between three and five minutes to traverse.
We stated that this low level exposure to asbestos dust at the hospital was enough to cause several asbestos-related diseases, but specifically mesothelioma and that this would have been foreseeable at the time.
In fact, at the time Ms M worked at Ipswich Hospital, it was well known that mesothelioma could be caused by a fairly short exposure to asbestos and relatively low concentrations of dust when compared with other asbestos related diseases such as asbestosis.
Following negotiations, Ms M was offered a compensation settlement of £145,000 which she accepted a number of weeks before the three-day Court hearing was due to take place.
The compensation means she can now have the treatment she needs without financial worries and was spared a traumatic trial. Ms M has already received palliative chemotherapy and is being considered for further palliative therapy.
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