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Fighting for truth and justice for the victims of asbestos




Do GPs know about help available for asbestos victims?

We were delighted to attend the Royal College of General Practitioners Annual Primary Care Conference & Exhibition in Glasgow with Asbestos Action.


The event was held on the 4th and 5th October and is described as the must attend event of the year for GPs and practice teams. For our part, we were there as member of the Asbestos Victims Forum UK and the message to GPs was “Mind the Gap!”


The aim of the day was to raise awareness with GP’s of the importance of informing patients diagnosed with an asbestos related condition of the invaluable help and assistance which Forum support groups can offer, and the rights of victims and their families to claim benefits, or compensation from their past employer who exposed them to asbestos.


The warning to health professionals is that asbestos victims in Scotland may lose the right to pursue a compensation claim if they do not raise a claim within 3 years of diagnosis of any asbestos related condition.


That means if an asbestos victim goes on to develop another asbestos related disease which is life threatening such as Mesothelioma, they and their family will not be legally entitled to compensation.


This is commonly the case for people who are diagnosed with a less serious asbestos related condition such as pleural plaques (for which damages can be sought in Scotland unlike in England and Wales.)  Many health professionals still regard this condition as benign or clinically insignificant.



Hope Robertson at Clydebank Asbestos Group commented, “For us, this event was a great success. I was astonished at the number of GP’s we spoke to that did not know about the potential entitlement of asbestos victims or their families to receive benefits or seek civil damages. We truly hope our presence here has gone some way to filling that critical gap in knowledge.”



Is the law supporting low exposure asbestos victims?

For generations, employers exposed their workers to asbestos, a known harmful substance. Workers that developed an asbestos disease have been able to secure compensation for their employers negligence.


However, people with a low level of exposure to asbestos have found it difficult to access compensation for their condition.


It wasn’t just workers handling asbestos day in and day out that came into contact with asbestos. Others encountered the harmful substance on a limited number of occasions and families also came into contact after workers returned home covered in asbestos dust.


Some of these people have gone on to develop an asbestos related condition later in life but the law has not been on their side when it comes to proving employers were at fault and securing compensation for their disease


Finally, it looks like the tide is turning in favour of asbestos victims in low exposure cases.


The English Court of Appeal reversed an earlier decision that imposed a high level of proof for those seeking to prove employer was at fault in low exposure cases.


Hot on the heels of this, there have been two recent Scottish cases which reinforce the position in favour of low exposure claimants.


In a case against North British Steel Group, an office worker would run the odd errand to the factory floor where asbestos blankets were used. It was held that the worker was exposed to a sufficient amount of asbestos dust for the employer to be responsible for their asbestos disease.


In another case against Babcock International Limited, the family of a lady who died of mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos cancer, successfully argued that she had been the victim of “secondary exposure” to asbestos which came into her home on the working clothes of her husband.


Both cases should be the source of much encouragement for asbestos sufferers and their families. The message is that they should not give up hope and rely on the legal experts who are specialists in this field.


The tide is turning…



Fraser Simpson

Head of Industrial Disease

Digby Brown Solicitors



Next generation need to help those affected by asbestos



A woman who has dedicated her life to helping those affected by the killer substance asbestos has said the next generation need to step up and help those whose lives have been afflicted by the deadly material.


Hope Robertson's tradesman husband, David died after contracting mesothelioma - a fatal cancer in the outer lining of the lung.


An electrician who started out as a 15-year-old apprentice on the Clyde shipyards, Mr Robertson had no idea he was breathing in asbestos fibres which would lead to his death.


Retired typist Mrs Robertson, from Clydebank, said: "The only reason we went to the doctor that day was because he had been losing some weight and struggling to eat and drink.


“We thought he might have caught a wee bug or something but when we were sent to hospital we knew it wasn’t good.”


The GP was concerned about the sound of David’s lungs after listening through a stethoscope and immediately referred the electrician to Gartnavel Hospital.


He died one month later on April 17 – just 52 days after being diagnosed.


Mrs Robertson, 74, said: "I sat on the bed beside him and he just looked up at me, nodded and said ‘You’ll be alright, pet’, shut his eyes and that was it. He just closed his eyes and he passed very peacefully."


Once dubbed a "miracle" substance by the construction industry, asbestos was widely used for insulation and fireproofing throughout the 20th Century.


However the damage done from the substance is now widely known. Inhaling just one fibre can be enough to trigger mesothelioma - with more than 500 people dying from it every year in Scotland.


Clydebank in particular, with its history of heavy industry, means than a high number of people working and living in the area are dealing with asbestos-related diseases, leading it to be dubbed the Asbestos Capital of Europe.


Mrs Robertson now devotes her time volunteering at the Clydebank Asbestos Group (CAG) – a charity she joined 18 years ago, on the very day her husband was diagnosed.


The volunteer organisation -- which helps thousands of people across the west of Scotland who have suffered from asbestos-related diseases -- is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary.


She said now the next generation need to step in to help the loved ones of the 2,600 sufferers asbestos-related diseases who die in the UK every year.


She added: “The use of asbestos might be confined to the history books but its shadow reaches into our present with pain and clouds our future with fear.


“Asbestos-related conditions can take up to 40 years to surface and it’s thought we’ll keep seeing new cases emerge for the next 30 years.


“So the next generation really need to consider what support will be in place because we physically won’t be around for much longer."


For the full story see http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16100555.Next_generation_need_to_help_those_affected_by_asbestos/

FRIDAY 21st APRIL, 2017

Conference hears stark warnings about threat of asbestos today

The dangers of asbestos exposure and the threat asbestos poses to people of all ages throughout Scotland today were the main themes of a conference held in Glasgow on Friday 21st April.


Glasgow’s Science Centre was an appropriate venue for an event held to highlight that asbestos exposure and asbestos related illnesses are not relics of our industrial past but a public health issue affecting individuals and families in Scotland today.


“Asbestos: Challenges today and the threat to future generations” was organised by Clydebank Asbestos Group in association Asbestos Action, and the event was supported by Digby Brown Solicitors.


The event was opened by Bob Dickie from Clydebank Asbestos Group, who introduced a short film showing the difference the organisations’ vital work makes (see below), a theme which was echoed by Douglas McAllister, Provost of West Dunbartonshire Council.



Clydebank Asbestos Group's Bob Dickie opening the event.


Attendees from across Scotland heard from medical and legal experts, including Consulting Engineer Robin Howie, Dr Alistair Dorward, Respiratory Consultant and Jan Devlin, Mesothelioma & Lund Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist.


Legal victories on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure

Fraser Simpson, Head of Digby Brown’s specialist Industrial Disease department, provided a legal update; highlighting recent landmark court decisions Digby Brown have secured which are helping victims of asbestos exposure across Scotland.



Digby Brown Partner Fraser Simpson addressing attendees.


Asbestos in schools – public health threat

The presence of asbestos in school buildings and the urgent public health threat it poses in Scotland was the central theme of the afternoon session.  The conference heard from Sarah Lyons, an official with the National Union of Teachers and a member of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) in England and Wales.


Sarah Lyons discussed the results of a recent JUAC report which showed that asbestos is still present in up to 75% of schools in England, and the work the group has done to raise awareness of the public health threat in this area, including securing a Department for Education review of its Asbestos Policy for Schools and new guidance to schools on dealing with the threat.


Clydebank Asbestos Group - how we can help


Glasgow Cancer Centre the first to offer procedure for asbestos related cancer

The Beatson cancer Centre in Glasgow is the first in Scotland to begin offering a surgical procedure to end the severe pain experienced by those with an asbestos-related cancer.


Asbestos-related disease is caused by exposure to asbestos dust.  Many people don’t realise they have the disease for a long time after as symptoms can take decades to develop.


There are four types of asbestos disease and the worst of them is Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.

Clydebank Asbestos Group welcomes the development

This new development is very much welcomed by Clydebank Asbestos Group who have first-hand experience of asbestos disease and have been campaigning to raise awareness of this disease.


Hope Robertson, the group’s secretary, has been working with the charity for a number of years and says:


Anything that’s going to improve a life of the sufferer has got to be good. My husband died from mesothelioma so I know personally what a big help this will be and quite honestly it’s long overdue.

Clydebank named Asbestos capital of Europe

Clydebank used to have a high amount of heavy industry in the area which used asbestos and unfortunately many people working and living in this area contracted an asbestos related disease. As a result, the area was named Asbestos Capital of Europe.


With this new development it means mesothelioma sufferers living in Clydebank and Glasgow have somewhere close by they can go to access this procedure.


For the full story, please see http://www.clydebankpost.co.uk/news/15208717.Beatson_becomes_first_to_offer_procedure_for_asbestos_caused_cancer/



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