Nurses, doctors and many other health care professionals are at risk of ‘casual’ asbestos exposure every day. Last year showed a vast amount of compensation being paid out to the families of medical staff affected by asbestos exposure. The family of one former doctor received £1.5 million.

Andrew Lawson was a Consultant Anesthetist who in 2007 aged 48, discovered he was suffering from mesothelioma. Like many, he struggled to identify when he would have ever come in contact with asbestos in his lifetime.

A letter from 2010 written by Andrew reveals all:

“It seems that there may have been a lot of asbestos in the tunnels at Guy’s Hospital where I spent six years training. Everybody – students, nurses, doctors and porters – used the tunnels. One wonders how many of my contemporaries will get the same disease?” Of four doctors who trained at Guy’s Hospital and who subsequently developed Mesothelioma in the past five year…I am the only one left alive.”[4]

Andrew sadly passed away this year on February 17th. He fought an immense battle throughout and was one of many Meso Warriors in the United Kingdom.

Asbestos can be found in hospitals mostly below ground level where many of its asbestos-lagged pipes are housed. Other places include pedestrian tunnels used to get from one building to the other and also basement canteens.

The most recent case of high asbestos risk at a hospital was that of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust. They were ordered to pay nearly £90,000 as a result of negligence of their staff which resulted in asbestos exposure over a period of 50 years.

Three of the Trusts’ hospitals underwent maintenance work between April 2000 and December 2011, Hemel Hemstead Hospital, St Albans Hospital and Watford General Hospital. All three contained asbestos yet the Trust failed to show proper management or monitoring of the deadly fibre throughout this process. Since the trial ended in 2012, West Hertfordshire has spent almost £1.6 million on asbestos removal on all sites and plan to spend £500,000 more this year. [5]

Shockingly in 2004, hospital workers were fourth on a list of highest rates of mesothelioma deaths. During 2002 and 2010, 64 male and female nurses aged 16-72 had lost their lives to Mesothelioma. [6]

Liz Darlison, Macmillan Consultant Nurse at University of Leicester and co-founder of Mesothelioma UK comments:

“It is still predominantly carpenters, joiners, laggers, but those of us who work with this disease are fearful because increasingly we are seeing more women and more people who’ve had casual exposure such as teachers, doctors, nurses, secretaries, and people who have sat on the knee of a dad who has worked with asbestos.”[7]

If you or a family member are suffering from an asbestos disease, contact Asbestos Justice on 0800 038 6767 for expert legal advice.


[4]The Telegraph – Asbestos: The Killer that still surrounds us, 2014

[5]National Health West Hertfordshire Trust Fined Nearly £9000 for Asbestos Risk

[6]Mesothelioma Occupation Statistics – Health and Safety Executive 2013

[7]Mosaic, The Science of Life – Killer Dust 2014

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