Former Nurse’s Search For Ex-Colleagues Following Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis

‘Grim’ Victorian Hospital May Have Had Asbestos Lagged Pipe Work

10.11.2010

A Devon woman, who has been diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer, believes she may have been exposed to the lethal fibres whilst working in an old hospital as a trainee nurse.

58-year-old Jennifer Jameson from Dainton, Newton Abbot was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the chest lining, in June this year. Mrs Jameson believes she may have been exposed to asbestos dust whilst working as a trainee psychiatric nurse in the North East during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Helen Grady, a workplace illness expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors’ South West office, who is representing Mrs Jameson, says she is concerned at the increasing number of hospital workers who are now being diagnosed with asbestos related cancer and follows media reports earlier this year that a well known Exeter GP’s death was as a result of mesothelioma.

She explained: "Sadly, Mrs Jameson is one of a growing number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma whose jobs are not usually associated with heavy exposure to asbestos. Hospital staff and teachers who were exposed to quite low levels of asbestos 20 or 30 years ago and even family members who breathed in asbestos dust brought home on their loved one’s work clothes, are now being given the shocking diagnosis that they have an asbestos related illness.

“Every year this dreadful disease kills thousands of innocent victims who were often exposed simply through the air that they breathed at work. Even as far back as the 1930s, employers were aware of the dangers of asbestos yet in many cases little was done to protect workers.”

Helen continued: “Jennifer Davies, as she was then known, was a young student nurse working at Middlesbrough’s St Luke’s Hospital in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By all accounts it was a rather grim Victorian building with exposed pipe work running the lengths of the old corridors.

“Mrs Jameson has been able to recall that extensive repair work was carried out in the early 1970s on the lavatory block and wards and it is possible that asbestos lagging may have been disturbed. In order to gain justice for Jennifer, we are hoping that her former colleagues and workmen involved in the repair work will be able to provide us with key information.

Mrs Jameson has three daughters and five grandchildren, has recently undergone radiotherapy and will be having chemotherapy treatment.

She commented: “The diagnosis has understandably been very difficult to deal with. My daughter, who had been travelling in the US, has returned home early to be with me. I’m fortunate to have a friend who has been very supportive and has moved in to look after me. I also recently spent a couple of weeks at Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay for short term respite care and I cannot praise enough the staff, who were so fantastic.

“However the fact remains, that I would not be suffering from this terrible illness, if I had not been exposed earlier in my life to asbestos dust. I try to stay positive but I do miss the little things like having the strength to do the gardening or play with my grandchildren.”

Helen Grady added: “Although no amount of money will compensate Mrs Jameson for her loss of health, we feel it’s important to fight for justice and find out whether working conditions were to blame for this illness.”

Anyone able to assist should contact Helen Grady at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0370 1500 100 or email helen.grady@irwinmitchell.com