Calls For Greater Asbestos Awareness 20 Years on From The 1999 Ban
Friends of a Northwood woman, who died from an asbestos related disease, say that a six-figure settlement from the hospital where she worked means the ex-nurse can now “rest in peace”.
Mandy Mather was just 51 when she died of mesothelioma on 15 May 2016. More than three years later, her claim for compensation against Mount Vernon Hospital, where she lived, worked and spent her final days has settled.
Mandy was first diagnosed with mesothelioma on 3 February 2015. It is a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos decades previously.
Following on from her diagnosis, Mandy instructed asbestos related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how she had been in contact with the deadly substance.
Mandy believed her exposure took place at Mount Vernon Hospital, where she worked for various periods between 1982 and 2006. She lived in the nurses’ accommodation and passed away at the Michael Sobell Hospice on site.
The hospital denied the claim. However, proceedings were issued in May 2019 and the hospital has now made a six-figure offer to settle. Mandy’s friends say the case meant so much to her.
When told of the settlement, Heather Barrett, one of Mandy’s friends and supporters said: “It was upsetting to see Mandy suffer the way she did towards the end. We know how important it was to Mandy to get answers, so at least now she can rest in peace.”
The conclusion of this case comes as the country marks 20 years since the ban on white asbestos in November 1999. Two decades on, new cases continue to come to light.
Over 1,000 people have died of mesothelioma since 2011 in London alone – with doctors and nurses among the victims. Between 2013 and 2017, 352 claims were made against NHS Trusts by people who had developed asbestos related diseases in NHS buildings.
Prior to her death, Mandy told the Irwin Mitchell team supporting her that the 117 year old Mount Vernon Hospital was “shabby and in poor condition”, explaining that a collapsed roof forced the trust to move some services from one part of the hospital to another at one point.
Mandy stated that wards were not sealed off completely during repair and maintenance work, which she believed risked exposing her and other staff and patients to asbestos dust.
Mount Vernon Hospital is not alone in containing asbestos. Reports suggest that nine out of 10 NHS Trusts have the substance in their hospitals, including 94% of hospitals in London.
Mandy underwent chemotherapy treatment during her illness, in an effort to beat the disease and see the conclusion of her case. Mandy’s story will now warn others of the risk.
Expert Opinion“Sadly, many clients with mesothelioma pass away before they can see justice done. Mandy was devastated to be diagnosed with asbestos related cancer at such a young age and the irony of developing the disease because she lived and worked at a specialist cancer hospital was not lost on her.
Mandy described workmen climbing around in the ceilings above patients causing dust to fall from the ceilings onto everything below. Sometimes she and other nurses would have to sweep and clean after such repairs had been completed. While asbestos remains present in so many buildings, the 20 year anniversary is a good opportunity to remind employers that they need to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure workers are protected from the risk of exposure.
Mandy was such a young person to find herself facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma. As a result of her age and limited recollection of her asbestos exposure at the outset, it was a challenging case so we are delighted to have secured a result that raises awareness and ensures that justice was done.” Joanne Jefferies - Partner
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases