With a large number of sufferers and around 2,500 deaths each year, mesothelioma is a devastating disease. Caused by exposure to asbestos dust, this form of lung cancer is often seen in retired industry workers and those who served in the war. The disease often arises decades after the initial exposure.
So why is it, then, that the current compensation for veterans with mesothelioma is nearly £150,000 less than others would receive?
This question was addressed to our own Prime Minister recently. Labour MP Dave Anderson challenged PM David Cameron not long after The Independent made clear just how drastic the gap in compensation was, which also prompted former military chiefs and service charities to demand action.
Current laws protect the Ministry of Defence from being sued for compensation for any illness or injury caused before 1987. Due to mesothelioma appearing decades after initial exposure, this leaves those currently suffering with the disease dependent on a much smaller war pension.
The government’s current compensation scheme for civilians sees a 63-year old receive a lump sum of £180,000, while those suffering from mesothelioma typically receive just £31,000 a year.
However, the Prime Minister is set to review how mesothelioma sufferers are compensated, in news that has been widely well-received.
Chris Simpkins, director general of the Royal British Legion. stated that the gap in compensation “is a clear breach of the Armed Forces Covenant. We look forward to the government coming forward with a solution soon.”
Rhod Palmer, a 62-year-old retired commodore, was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year. He stated that “It would be terrific if the Prime Minister brought his full weight to bear on the subject and ensured that Service sufferers of mesothelioma, current and not just future claimants, would be properly compensated and not disadvantaged in comparison to civilian victims of asbestos.”
Fred Minall was a mechanical engineer in the Royal Navy between 1957 and 1965. Another sufferer of the disease, he said that “People who are currently suffering this dreadful disease have served the Country, they deserve to be treated like all citizens and they should not be left in the knowledge they will probably die before the Government will do the honourable thing.”
Such suffering further highlights the urgency of a review of the compensation scheme, as does a quote from Madeleine Moon MP, a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee: “Sadly time is not on the side of those who were exposed to asbestos. The PM must give a firm commitment to bring RN personnel into the same compensation scheme as civilians.”
We can only agree strongly with such sentiments here at Trident Surveying. The dangers of asbestos exposure are all too real, which is why we are dedicated to providing reliable and professional asbestos surveying. We provide a wide range of services, including asbestos awareness training and asbestos air testing.