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Asbestos Lagged Pipes

Family’s plea to NHS workers after former nurse dies aged 64 of asbestos-related cancer

The husband of a former NHS worker who died at the age of 64 from an incurable cancer caused by asbestos has appealed for information about the hospitals where she worked in Kent and Warwickshire.

Posted on 30 April 2024

Jane Preston worked for the NHS as a records clerk at Westhill Hospital in Dartford during the 1970s and 1980s, before working as a nurse at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry at the end of the 1990s into the early 2000s.

While working at both hospitals, which have since been demolished, Jane regularly came into contact with pipework coated in decayed lagging which contained asbestos. In November 2022, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma - an asbestos-related cancer with no cure - and died just three months later in February 2023.

Working with the charity Asbestos Action, Jane’s widower Andrew Preston is now continuing her civil claim following the wishes of his late wife. The claim will investigate how she was exposed to the lethal substance which caused her cancer and premature death.

During her work as a clerk at Westhill Hospital in 1975 and between 1979 and 1981, Jane was regularly required to go down to the basement where hospital archives were kept. This involved reaching to get files that were stored close to a boiler with decayed lagging on its pipes, covering the files in dust which Jane then had to sweep up after fetching the documents.

Jane Preston
Jane Preston

From 1999 to 2001, Jane worked as a staff nurse in the x-ray department at Walsgrave Hospital. Her time in this role saw her make use of underground service tunnels which had decayed lagging on pipework stretching the entire length of the tunnels, often being disturbed by maintenance workers. It is also believed that the ceiling tiles in the hospital were made of asbestos.

Both hospitals have been demolished in the years since, with Westhill Hospital being knocked down in 2000 and Walsgrave Hospital in 2007.

With the buildings now gone, Andrew is appealing to Jane’s former NHS colleagues to help build a picture of her daily working conditions and find out how she came into contact with asbestos.

Jane’s widower Andrew Preston said:

“We were devastated to lose Jane aged just 64 and sickened by the knowledge that her work in the NHS brought her into contact with the asbestos that led to her death so prematurely. It is my hope that this claim will help to highlight the national scandal of asbestos exposure increasingly affecting NHS workers past and present.

“If anyone remembers Jane, or if they too worked at Westhill or Walsgrave Hospitals around the same time as she was there in the mid to late 70s and late 90s, I would be very grateful if you would get in touch to share your recollections."

Andrew has instructed Leigh Day asbestos team partner Kevin Johnson, who said:

“We would like to speak to anybody who worked with Jane at either hospital or who holds any information regarding the use of asbestos on these sites. Any relevant information provided could help her husband’s legal claim concerning the loss of his wife in these tragic circumstances.”

If you can provide any information, please contact Kevin Johnson on 0151 305 2760 or KTJohnson@leighday.co.uk

Kevin Johnson
Asbestos and mesothelioma Industrial disease

Kevin Johnson

Leading Liverpool, Cheshire and North West mesothelioma claims lawyer

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