Asbestos-related diseases can impact entire communities, but there’s one important source of comfort for those affected.
Local hospices play a vital role in supporting families affected by mesothelioma and other conditions caused by asbestos exposure.
Keep reading to learn how our landmark court judgment helped hospices to access crucial financial aid, even during the coronavirus crisis.
How our landmark court case helped us give something back to hospices
In 2010, we secured compensation for the daughters of James Wilson. Their father had developed mesothelioma after working at a power station in the 1950s.
In the weeks before his death in 2007, James was in the care of St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney. His family felt compelled to show their gratitude to the hospice staff for looking after their father, but only had limited funds to offer.
We supported James’s daughters in making two claims. The first was to secure compensation for the negligence that exposed their father to asbestos and led to him developing mesothelioma. But the second was on behalf of St Joseph’s, to recover the costs of James’s care.
When the court ruled in James’s family’s favour, it was the first case of its kind. This landmark judgment acknowledged the invaluable care that hospices provide to those suffering from asbestos-related diseases.
Since our milestone case, many similar rulings have forced former employers to cover hospice costs for victims of mesothelioma. And our specialist lawyers continue to fight for compensation for affected families and the hospices that help them, including the largest hospice in Yorkshire.
St Gemma’s Hospice and the ways we’re supporting their work
Across the UK, you’ll find hospices which offer priceless care and support to their communities, and those with life-limiting and terminal illnesses. In Leeds, one of these is St Gemma’s Hospice.
The hospice opened in 1978, and provides expert palliative care to patients and carers. As well as offering care for patients in the hospice’s in-patient unit and at home, St Gemma’s has a range of practical and emotional support services.
We’re proud to support charities like St Gemma’s by recovering costs for the care of mesothelioma victims. Since our landmark court case in 2010, cases won by us have contributed £68,685.93 to St Gemma’s.
These funds are enough to cover the yearly wages of two of St Gemma’s specialist nurses, who deliver palliative care and support to patients and families. Thanks to this, the charity can help even more people in the Leeds community with loved ones affected by asbestos-related diseases and other life-limiting illnesses.
“Last year, just after the pandemic had started, my wife’s cancer returned, worse than ever.”
Stuart Levin is one of the countless people in the Leeds area to benefit from the expert support of St Gemma’s Hospice. When his wife Francine fell ill at the height of the coronavirus crisis, Stuart struggled to care for her alone.
“Because of COVID-19, there was no support for us, no-one to come and help,” Stuart says. “In desperation, we reached out for St Gemma’s. They called us back the very next morning to say they’d found a bed for Francine. We were both so utterly relieved.”
Stuart praises the way the staff at St Gemma’s Hospice immediately gave him and his wife both medical and emotional support.
“All the stress and worry lifted from me completely,” he says. “It was a revelation. I stopped being Francine’s carer and became her husband once more.”
Since Francine passed away, the team at St Gemma’s have provided Stuart with specialist bereavement support. That commitment to going the extra mile for families is what makes hospices central to their communities, something that’s more important than ever right now.
Mesothelioma care during the COVID-19 crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated communities across the UK. For hospices supporting patients and families through mesothelioma and other life-limiting and terminal illnesses, the crisis has changed the ways in which support is given.
Dr Hannah Zacharias is a consultant in palliative medicine at St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds. She says: “The hardest thing for so many of us has been restricting visiting to just one or two loved ones at any time for each patient. This needed to happen to reduce the spread of the virus, but it’s made it incredibly difficult for families during those precious final days and hours.”
St Gemma’s Hospice provides care in their in-patient unit and in patients’ own homes, and the pandemic has impacted both services. The hospice has increased phone and video calls for offsite patients and families, but giving medical support while wearing face masks and visors has been challenging for staff.
“We’re just desperate for the day when we can shed all the protective gear and show patients our smiles once more,” says Dr Zacharias, “And to give them a proper hug when they need one.”
For community hospices, perhaps the biggest impact of the pandemic is on funding. Charities like St Gemma’s often raise money through donations to their shops and fundraising events, and the UK’s lockdown measures have affected both.
Today more than ever, hospices like St Gemma’s need every bit of financial support possible. Thanks to our landmark court victory, hospices can now recover the costs of their expert care for those with life-limiting diseases. We’re committed to making sure that continues.
Find out how we can help with asbestos and mesothelioma claims
Back to Client Stories