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Retired Hospital Clerk Appeals For Help From Former Colleagues After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Illness Lawyers Helping Victim To Seek Justice


A retired hospital clerk who spent almost 20 years working at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle is appealing to her former workmates for help in her legal battle for justice, after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.

Joan Dawson, formerly Joan Sanderson, 71, visited her GP in August 2014 after discovering a lump on her breast. She underwent a mammogram, scan and biopsy and was referred to North Tyneside Hospital for an MRI scan. In September she visited the Ashington Breast Clinic and was given the devastating news that she was suffering with mesothelioma - a terminal cancer caused by exposure to dangerous asbestos dust and fibres decades ago.

The mother-of-three has now instructed expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her investigate where and why she was exposed to the deadly substance. Ms Dawson is hoping to seek justice from her previous employers for failing to prevent her from being exposed to asbestos during her time working at the RVI.

Lawyers are working to secure Ms Dawson, who lives in Bedlington, Northumberland, a settlement which will be used to provide vital care and support for her as she deals with the terminal illness together with financial security for her and her family. 

She believes she was exposed to asbestos dust during maintenance work at the hospital and is appealing for her former colleagues to help provide information to assist with Irwin Mitchell’s investigations.

Joan worked at the hospital between 1980 and 1998 as a clerk, initially spending eight years on the Pavillion 2 ward in the ophthalmology department, before moving to the Pavillion 1 ward where elderly patients were cared for. 

In her role as a clerk she moved around the hospital, visiting other wards, and regularly visited the pharmacy that was located in the basement of the hospital. During her time working on these wards maintenance work was regularly carried out on the buildings, which were constructed during World War One.

Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, leading the case, said: 
Expert Opinion
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer that leads to a significant amount of suffering for victims like Joan and their families. It takes decades from exposure to the deadly dust before symptoms develop so we need help from her former colleagues to gather information on the working conditions she endured.

“Both Joan and her children, David, Nigel and Heather, have been left completely shocked and devastated by her diagnosis and are understandably concerned about what the future will hold. Her employers should have been aware of the dangers asbestos posed to workers and should have taken action to protect their staff.

“We have seen numerous cases of people suffering from asbestos-related diseases as a result of asbestos exposure at the RVI in Newcastle. We hope that Joan’s former colleagues, or those who carried out construction and maintenance work at the hospital, will come forward and provide crucial information about the working conditions they were exposed to and what safety measures were in place to reduce exposure to asbestos dust.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

Joan, who has three children, said: “I was totally stunned when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and I was distraught when I found out it was just because of my job years ago. 

“I have always been fit and healthy and enjoyed being independent; looking after my own home and garden and spending the summers travelling around the UK in my motorhome. This enjoyment has been taken away from me and I am now less independent.”

“I am extremely concerned about the future and how the illness will  affect me, I live on my own and not sure how I will manage as I now need more care.”

“Hopefully my former colleagues will come forward with the information we need to progress the case and ensure justice is done.”

Anyone who thinks they may be able to help is asked to contact Kirstie Wilson at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0191 279 0136 or email Kirstie.Wilson@irwinmitchell.com.

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