Dying doctor warns of asbestos ‘hidden epidemic’ caused by NHS failures

An NHS doctor and mother of two with just months left to live has warned of a “hidden epidemic” of asbestos-related cancers among NHS staff and patients because hospitals have failed to properly handle the toxic material, the Independent has reported.

Kate Richmond, 44, has spoken out to raise awareness after she won a legal case against the NHS for negligently exposing her to asbestos while she was working as a medical student and junior doctor.

An investigation by The Independent has learnt there have been 13 prosecutions linked to NHS breaches of regulations for the handling of asbestos since 2010, while 381 compensation claims have been made by NHS staff for work-related diseases, including exposure to asbestos, since 2013, costing the health service more than £26m.

She described how maintenance staff removed asbestos ceiling tiles with no protective measures, allowing dust and debris to fall on to wards where patients were in their beds and staff were working.

Managers at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry failed to heed warnings by workers that they were putting people at risk. She said;

“They made an economic decision that condemned me to death. No amount of money can compensate for my children growing up without their mother.”