Information Wanted on Asbestos Usage at Exminster Hospital

13th February 2020

The husband of an ex-nursing assistant who died from the asbestos-related cancer Mesothelioma has today issued an appeal for her former colleagues to come forward with information relating to the conditions of the hospital where she worked as part of his ongoing battle for answers.

Iris McLennan from Barnstaple, Devon, was 75 years old when she sadly passed away on March 23rd, 2019 following a short battle with her illness. At an inquest which took place on February 12th, the Coroner said it was likely her death had been caused by occupational asbestos exposure.

Her devastated family have now instructed leading Industrial Disease Solicitors at Simpson Millar to help in their battle for answers and are now appealing to those who may have worked with her at Exminster Hospital, where she provided care for the elderly between 1976 and 1978, to come forward with information.

Responsible for assisting in various parts of the building, including the outbuilding and the main hospital, Iris would travel the corridors from place to place working as part of a larger team.

Speaking before her death, she recalled that there were exposed pipes on the walls and the ceilings of many of the buildings corridors that were covered in a white material and had metal banding on them.

Due to the age of the hospital, Iris believed that the pipes were lagged with asbestos. She also recalled maintenance work being carried out which may have disturbed the dust.

Speaking of his loss her husband Ian said, “Iris and I married in 1965 and we were very happy before we received news of her dreadful diagnosis. She was always so active and sociable, but the Mesothelioma really took it out of her, and she soon struggled to do even the most basic day to day tasks.

“I desperately want to better understand when and where she was exposed to asbestos, and whether more could have been done to protect her from this illness, and I would be so grateful if anyone who worked with her at Exminster Hospital would come forward with any information of the working conditions.”

The family’s Solicitor Anthony Waddington, who specialises in asbestos claims said, “Mesothelioma is responsible for around 2,500 deaths annually – a figure that continues to increase and devastate the lives of victims as well as their families.

“We are now looking for witnesses who worked for Exminster Hospital in Devon to gain an understanding of the working conditions and relevant safety procedures that were in place at the time to protect staff from any exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

“We hope to provide Iris’s family with answers as to exactly why and when the exposure to asbestos occurred so that they can feel some sense of justice.”

Exminster Hospital, part of the Exe Vale Hospitals group which provided the mental health inpatient provision for Devon, forms part of the Devon Area Health Authority.

The appeal for information comes amidst growing concern about the number of people working within the NHS affected by the illness.

According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive showing that between 2011 and 2017, a total of 128 people working in health and social care roles died from Mesothelioma.

An article in The Independent earlier this month also warned of a ‘hidden epidemic’ of NHS staff and patients afflicted with asbestos-related cancers due to hospitals failing to properly handle asbestos materials.

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact Anthony Waddington on 0808 129 3320 or use the contact form below.

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