East Finchley Man Who ‘Lives In Constant Fear’ Bids To Help Others
A local man putting together a register of those at risk of developing asbestos related disease is appealing for workers and patients of a former psychiatric hospital to come forward.
Mike O’Shea, from East Finchley worked as the boiler man at Friern Hospital between 1987 and 1993 and has seen former colleagues die from mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.
Having provided evidence to support legal claims on behalf of colleagues who died from the deadly disease, Mike is now concerned not just for his own wellbeing but the health of others suspected of encountering asbestos at the former hospital.
Mike has joined with experts at Irwin Mitchell to highlight the dangers of asbestos by launching his appeal for people to share their recollections of Friern, on the 20th anniversary of the UK ban on white asbestos.
Mike hopes a register will help others who find themselves facing mesothelioma, which can affect people up to 50 years following exposure to asbestos. Once described as the magic mineral, Mike recalls his own encounters with asbestos at the hospital vividly.
Mike O’Shea said: “The conditions at the hospital were appalling from a health and safety perspective. Clumps of asbestos had fallen from pipework and torn asbestos lagging was visible everywhere in the boiler house.
Having seen former friends and colleagues die from contact with asbestos, I live in constant fear that I will succumb to the disease, which is why I am keen to produce this register to help all those who worked and were patients at the hospital.”
The giant psychiatric hospital which closed its doors in 1993 was one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Europe, with up to 2500 patients and known to have the longest corridor in England.
Former colleagues of Mike included Daniel (Danny) McArdle from Barnet. A painter and decorator at the hospital between 1974 and 1993, Danny was just 69 when he died from asbestos related cancer in September 2014.
Expert Opinion“Mike has already been generous enough to support the families of his former colleagues with asbestos diseases but his concern about his own health following from his own exposure is totally understandable and is a genuine worry that he has to live with.
Whilst we have been able to support a number of Mike’s former colleagues who contracted the disease from the old hospital, those developing asbestos diseases in the future may not immediately recollect their own exposure from the hospital, which is why Mike is looking to compile his register to help other families in the future.”
This year, above any other, is the right one to start the job to ensure that something constructive comes out of this 20th year commemoration and ensure future justice for patients and employees alike.” Ian Bailey - Partner