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Former Bexley Hospital engineer assistant receives settlement following asbestos-related diagnosis

A man who worked at Bexley Hospital in the late 1970s and early 1980s has received compensation following his diagnosis with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

22 June 2020

The man, who we are calling John, was employed by Greenwich and Bexley Area Health Authority. He worked as an engineer's assistant and part of his job was to carry out repairs to heating pipes located in underground service tunnels beneath the hospital.

He recalls that there was asbestos lagging around the pipes which serviced the boiler. He described how he removed the asbestos lagging from the pipes by using a hammer to knock it off, which caused it to break up and release significant quantities of asbestos dust into the air. John says he was not provided with a mask or any protection while working at Bexley Hospital.

He began to experience symptoms of a cough and chest pain in December 2017 and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of mesothelioma in June 2018, when John was aged 62. He has experienced significant breathlessness, fatigue and weight loss.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is almost entirely caused by exposure to asbestos fibre and develops in the lining of the lungs.

Following his diagnosis John instructed Leigh Day who conducted research into Bexley Hospital. This identified that although the hospital was closed in 2001, an asbestos site survey was conducted following the closure which confirmed the presence of asbestos lagging debris and residue in the underground service tunnels.

Following six cycles of chemotherapy, John's treating doctor recommended that he have immunotherapy treatment, which is not currently available on the NHS but is available on a private basis.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care admitted liability for John's claim. A six-figure settlement was agreed in March 2020, which also allows John to continue to claim the cost of his ongoing immunotherapy treatment.

Andrew Cooper from the industrial diseases team at Leigh Day said:

"The diagnosis of mesothelioma has significantly impacted on John's life.

"l am pleased John has achieved this settlement which now allows him to focus on his health and access immunotherapy treatment, which would not have otherwise been available to him without this settlement."

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