Shropshire NHS Trust faces prosecution over poorly managed asbestos after project manager blows whistle

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been investigating Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) over reports that building workers at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital were exposed to asbestos while working on residential premises in 2012.

SaTH was first warned about suspected asbestos exposure at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2012.

These fears were first raised by whistleblower Les Small, a project manager in the estates department in 2012. He reported his fears regarding some renovation work in nursing accommodation at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Mr Small then lost his job but later won £50,000 damages after a tribunal found he was unlawfully fired.

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The HSE has been investigating Mr Small’s complaints, something SaTH said it has been working “very closely” with the watchdog on “over a number of years”. Confirming its intentions to prosecute, the HSE said there is no date for the hearing yet, and there is also no evidence to support proceedings against any individual.

Julia Clarke, director of corporate governance at SaTH, said:

“We have been notified by the HSE of their intention to commence legal proceedings. We have been working very closely with the HSE on this matter over a number of years and will continue to do so.”

Exposure to asbestos is commonly linked to lung disease and mesothelioma, according to Cancer Research.

Reacting to the news that SaTH will be prosecuted, the 62-year-old, of Wellington, said:

“I have mixed feelings.  I’m pleased the HSE is prosecuting because it will hold the trust to account, but I’m disappointed it will cost the hospital money better spent on nurses or healthcare assistants.

I’m really pleased the HSE is doing its job but I should never have been put in the position that I was.”