Asbestos exposure mortality rate in Fareham one of the highest in country

Dockyard workers on the outmuster at Unicorn gate in September 1974
Dockyard workers on the outmuster at Unicorn gate in September 1974
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FIGURES have shown that Fareham has one of the highest mortality rates for asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma in the country.

The numbers, released by the Office for National Statistics, found that 62 people in the town died from mesothelioma between 2010 and 2014, making it the fourth highest mortality rate in England and Wales.

That means that 10 people died from the disease per 100,000 people, with the national average being 4.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

In Portsmouth, 59 people died from mesothelioma between 2010 and 2014, giving it the eighth highest mortality rate in England and Wales at 7.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

In Gosport 29 people died, making it the 14th highest mortality rate at 7.6 per 100,000 people.

Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria was the highest in the country at 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Campaigners say more needs to be done to help sick and dying workers, and their families.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers campaigns for the rights of exposed workers and families.

Association president Jonathan Wheeler said: ‘Mesothelioma is a legacy of Britain’s industrial heritage.

‘Thankfully, employers nowadays are more aware of the dangers of exposing workers to asbestos. But those who were exposed 30 or 40 years ago are now facing death sentences for simply turning up to work.’

He said the disease had affected many former dockworkers, factory workers, tradesmen and even teachers.

Many are now seeking compensation through the Mesothelioma Act to make their final months comfortable and to provide financial security for their families.

Some face problems tracking down former employers’ insurers. Mr Wheeler said: ‘There is now a government fund of last resort for them to turn to but it doesn’t go far enough. It needs to be extended to include other asbestos-related diseases so other suffering workers can get the justice they deserve.’

The sentiment was echoed by law firm Moore Blatch’s asbestos-related disease expert, Nicky Howe.

She said: ‘The fund doesn’t go far enough and more still remains to be done.

‘Our hope is the legislation will be amended to include other asbestos-related conditions such as asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer.

‘These fall foul of the latest reforms but have a significant impact on the lives of former employees and would see these people also receiving the compensation they need.’

Lynne Squibb, from Hasag, a charity which provides support to sufferers and their families, said she was not surprised by the figures.

She said: ‘If you include Eastleigh, Southampton and Portsmouth, we have the highest incident rates for mesothelioma in the UK. It’s incredibly important for patients to receive compensation to ensure financial stability for their loved ones.

‘The payment scheme has been welcomed by support groups across the UK, however it does not go far enough to include patients diagnosed with asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer.

‘We’ll continue to lobby for changes to the scheme, this is work in progress. Our 100 per cent justice for asbestos victims campaign continues.’

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said she was ‘hugely sympathetic’ to sufferers of the disease.

She said: ‘The Mesothelioma Act will provide support for around 3,500 mesothelioma victims in the UK who face the unique circumstances of this awful condition.

‘I understand many people would like the scheme to pay more than the 80 per cent, however, the government needs to be certain the industry can afford more without passing disproportionate costs on to employers.’

To claim compensation, a sufferer must have been diagnosed on or after July 25, 2012.