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MSP backs calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers

An MSP has thrown her support behind a brand new information booklet from support charity Asbestos Action to help improve care for asbestos sufferers.

Scottish Labour’s Claire Baker joined the campaign one year after her own father died from mesothelioma – a terminal lung cancer contracted through asbestos exposure.

She was joined by John Fearn and Dianne Foster from Asbestos Action, a number of individuals affected by the harmful substance and Euan Love, Partner for Digby Brown’s Industrial Disease department as they unveiled the new booklet outside the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland Fife, was inspired to get behind the new support tool after the support she and her family received from Asbestos Action.

Her father Jim Brennan was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s as a sheet metal worker – he died on February 25 last year aged 70 just 12 months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Ms Baker said: “As a politician I always thought I had a keen awareness of issues related to asbestos.

“But it wasn’t until my father passed that I truly understood it and understood the anger of thousands of Scots because of how avoidable these deaths are.

“Although we got the support my dad needed it was sometimes a struggle and I’ve witnessed a real postcode lottery when it comes to people receiving the medical or pastoral care they need and deserve.

“We need to see improvements to bridge these gaps but also to secure the support needed and educate the next generation of health and social workers to make them aware of the impacts on individuals and families because conditions linked to asbestos will continue for decades to come.”

Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis.

Thousands were affected because employers, particularly in the construction industry, failed to provide workers with safety gear or breathing apparatus.

And to this day asbestos-related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year – more than are killed on the roads.

The new booklet advises people on the different kinds of conditions asbestos exposure can lead to as well as outlining effective measures for sufferers to put in place to assist with their day-to-day life.

It also tells families how to support their loved ones and where they can find additional support – even pointing individuals in the right direction for the best medical or financial help.

John Fearn, manager of the not-for-profit Asbestos Action, thanked Claire for her support of the new help booklet.

He said: “Ms Baker might be a politician but she’s also a daughter who lost her dad to a devastating illness.

“The tragic thing is her experience is just one of thousands seen over the decades but we don’t expect the number of cases to drop or even plateau in the near future.

“That’s why we need health boards, councils and other relevant bodies to put the right measures in place now so those affected get the right support deserve from day one.”

Euan Love from Digby Brown Solicitors and Partner of the firm’s Industrial Disease department said: “Ms Baker’s support, not just as a politician but as an affected individual, highlights the gravity and scale of asbestos-related diseases.

“This new resource is another example of how Asbestos Action continually seeks out new ways to help those in need – it will hopefully prove to be a useful aid to potentially thousands of sufferers and their families.”


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