Heartbroken Family Speak Out After Coroner Rules Mum Died Of Industrial Illness

Inquest Confirms Birmingham Hospital Cleaner Died From Asbestos-Related Disease


The devastated family of a former Birmingham hospital cleaner who died of an aggressive cancer have vowed to battle for justice after an inquest today (8 August) confirmed that their mum died after being exposed to asbestos at work.

Mum-of-three Betty Killworth, 82, from Weoley Castle in Birmingham was given the shocking diagnosis in September 2011 that she was suffering with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer of the chest lining. Betty tragically died just seven months later in April 2012.

HM Deputy Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, Sally Scanlon, today confirmed that Betty, who also had 5 grandchildren and one great grandchild, died as a result of mesothelioma and recorded a verdict of industrial disease.

Before she passed away Betty, who worked as a hospital cleaner in the Pharmacy department at the QE Hospital from 1976 to 1988, told industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell how she believed she had been exposed to asbestos dust whilst sweeping up after maintenance workers who had been carrying out renovations.

Alida Coates, a workplace illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office who is representing the family, said: “This is a particularly sad case because Betty had always been such a fit and active woman, even long after her retirement, so her diagnosis completely shocked the family.

“Today’s inquest verdict confirms that Betty died as a direct result of being exposed to asbestos. We are now working on behalf of her family to continue the battle for justice that Betty had begun before her tragic death.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, daughter Carol Pendleton, said: “When Mum started to feel poorly around Christmas 2010 we thought it was something that would just pass, but as her condition deteriorated we knew it was much more serious. She was initially told she was suffering from pneumonia but when her condition didn’t improve, further tests revealed that she had an asbestos-related cancer which was such a shock to us all.

“In her last few months she was in a lot of pain and lost a lot of weight. It’s really upsetting to think that Mum worked hard all those years to provide for her family and to now discover that conditions at work were ultimately responsible for her death, is devastating.”

Alida Coates added: “Now that the inquest is over, we are keen to move the case forward and gain justice for the family. We would like to speak to anyone who worked at QE Hospital from 1976 to 1988 as they may have vital information about the presence of asbestos and working practices at the hospital.

“No amount of money will turn back the clock but hopefully we can look to settle the case soon so that we can gain justice for what happened to Betty.”

Anyone who worked at the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital from 1976 to 1988 and in particular was involved in maintenance and renovation work in and around Nuffield House, should contact Alida Coates at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email alida.coates@irwinmitchell.com.