Family of Nurse Receives Compensation for Mesothelioma

Posted: 7th July 2011

The family of a woman who died from an asbestos-related disease has received £150,000 in compensation.

Christina Bolas trained as a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and worked there until 1968, and again between 1971 and 1986. She later moved to the North East. Whilst working in Birmingham, she frequently used an underground corridor which led to the laboratories and the mortuary. The corridor was lined with heating pipes that were lagged with asbestos.
Many years later, Mrs Bolas was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs, which is caused by breathing in asbestos dust. Mesothelioma normally develops many years after the initial exposure to asbestos and it is not possible to predict whether it will occur until symptoms develop. By this time, the disease is often at an advanced stage and many sufferers die shortly after diagnosis.
Mrs Bolas commenced a claim for compensation but died just a year after being diagnosed. Her husband therefore pursued her claim after her death and an out-of-court settlement was agreed.
Asbestos was mainly used in the construction of buildings between the 1950s and 1980s. Since that time, controls have been introduced, culminating in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, which brought together three previous sets of Regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work and asbestos licensing. The Regulations prohibit the importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos and continue bans introduced for blue and brown asbestos in 1985 and for white asbestos in 1999. The ban only applies to any new use of asbestos, however. If existing materials containing asbestos are in good condition, they may be left in place as long as their condition is monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.
Research carried out in 2005, which took account of the reduction in asbestos exposure as use of the material was prohibited and the varying exposure of different age groups at different times of their lives, suggested that deaths in the UK from mesothelioma would peak in 2015 and then fall to a much lower level. However, there is concern that asbestos is still present in many schools, hospitals and other public buildings and that the material is neither being managed effectively nor in good condition.
If you or someone you know has suffered ill health as a result of exposure to harmful substances in the workplace, contact <> for advice.
Partner Note
The research referred to was carried out in 2005 by the Health and Safety Executive together with cancer specialist Professor Julian Peto of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.