Loved Ones And Lawyers Issue Asbestos Warning Ahead Of World Hospice Day After Former Joiner Died From Mesothelioma
A Leeds hospice has received a funding boost after specialist lawyers recovered costs related to the care the charity gave a patient prior to his death from asbestos-related cancer.
Donald Hamilton a great grandfather from Leeds, died aged 90 from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following the former joiner’s diagnosis, Donald instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he came to develop the disease. His legal team went on to agree an undisclosed settlement from his former employers but Donald sadly died before he could see his case concluded.
In addition to the settlement, Irwin Mitchell also recovered Donald’s care costs for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Headlingley, which cared for him in his final days. It follows a past landmark judgment secured by Irwin Mitchell, which meant these costs could also be recovered.
As a result, £9,867 has now been passed to the charity ahead of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 14 October. Irwin Mitchell has now recovered £675,000 in in hospice care costs since 2018 and £96,000 so far in 2023 alone.
Expert Opinion“It was a pleasure to know Donald and while he died before he could see his case concluded, the result would have meant a lot to him.
“Donald’s death is another reminder of the terrible legacy of asbestos and should serve as a reminder that this substance is still very much with us. Employers still have a duty to protect their employees.
“Donald’s wife Pauline passed away in 2021 so the last few years have been a difficult time for the whole family. Nothing can compensate for what they have all been through, but it means a lot to the family to see the care costs for Wheatfields recovered.
“Hospices like Wheatfields provide vital support to families and patients when they need it most and hopefully the costs in this case will help the hospice support other patients in need in the future.” Oliver Collett, Workplace Illness and Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyer
Paul Musgrave, service director at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, said: “At Sue Ryder we support people through some of the most difficult times of their lives and those of their families.
“In 2021-22 we cared for over 8,100 people in our hospices or their own homes and 79p of every pound goes towards our expert patient care.
“All donations we receive are vital to continuing our services both in the hospice and the wider community and we’re grateful to Irwin Mitchell for recovering these costs, which help us to care for more people with terminal illnesses in the future.
“We hope Donald’s family take some comfort from the knowledge that his case means that more people will receive the care and bereavement support they need as a result and that someone is there for them when it matters most.”
During his employment, Donald worked as a joiner in Bradford, including on the construction of a new hotel. As part of the fitting out, Donald and his team would box-in exposed pipes and cabling using asbestos sheet, which he would collect from the saw operator, who cut the material to size.
The cutting of the asbestos sheets produced significant amounts of dust and fibres in the air, which Donald would breathe in and would cover his clothing and hair.
Donald started to experience night sweats and chest pains on his right side in early 2021. Having undergone a biopsy in March, mesothelioma was diagnosed on 15 April, 2021.
Donald completed five sessions of radiotherapy and at a CT scan in August, the disease appeared stable. Sadly, this period saw his wife Pauline die in July and his condition deteriorated. Donald was admitted to Wheatfields Hospice on 1 May, 2022, and died with his children by his side on 6 May.
Donald and Pauline married in March 1957 and had three children together. Daughter Maxine Postle, 63, and sons, Peter Hamilton, 61, and Martin Hamilton, 53. The couple were devoted to their children, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Maxine said: “Mum and dad were inseparable and to lose them both in such a short space of time is hard to come to terms with. Dad’s mesothelioma diagnosis was devastating but he never gave up. He set about discovering more about his asbestos exposure and set out on a course of treatment, which seemed to be going well, but mum’s death was hard for all of us.”
Peter said: “Dad was concerned about what his mesothelioma diagnosis might mean for mum and how care might be paid for, so we know it would mean a lot to him that the hospice costs have been recovered.
“The staff at the hospice were amazing and it means so much to us that they haven’t been left out of pocket for the support they gave to dad and our family in those final days. We wouldn’t have got through it without their help and we can’t thank them enough for their kindness and empathy.”
Martin said: “This now ends such a difficult chapter in our lives and it’s some comfort to know that dad’s determination to discover the truth about his asbestos exposure will help other families using the hospice in the future.
“Everyone thinks asbestos is a thing of the past but it’s not. As Dad’s death shows it’s still a real danger.”
Held every year, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is an annual unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice care around the world.