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Cancer woman s appeal to former hospital staff on asbestos threat

Fears incurable disease picked up at hospital

Shirley Price, second left, believes she breathed in asbestos dust while working at Brookwood Hospital in the 1970s
Shirley Price, second left, believes she breathed in asbestos dust while working at Brookwood Hospital in the 1970s

A great-grandmother has launched a desperate appeal to find former work colleagues after she was diagnosed with an incurable lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Shirley Price, 79, of Sussex Avenue, Hampton, worked at the Brookwood Hospital in Surrey for three years in the mid 1970s, where she believes she may have been exposed to the deadly dust. She had visited her GP to discuss breathing difficulties, but had to be rushed to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital last year with a severe bout of breathlessness. Then, following an X-ray which showed a shadow on her lungs, doctors diagnosed her with mesothelioma, a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs. She is now critically ill and lives with her daughter. She said:

“I worked as a cleaner, constantly dusting, sweeping, mopping and scrubbing. There was always dust and mess to clear up with little side wards going off the main ward and many large radiators and lots of pipes to clean. As the hospital was so big, there were permanent mamtenance men on-site who would regularly came onto the ward where I was working to carry out their repair jobs.”

Her son Robin said the suddenness of the diagnosis has had a devastating impact on the whole family, including her three children, two grandchildren, her great-grandchild and four step great-grandchildren. He said:

“Three months ago she was very independent, did her own cooking and washing, had friends over for coffee and walked to town to see friends. The cancer reared it’s ugly head and can be dormant for as long as 30 years. It has been quite devastating to be told she will die within a few months.”

Her case has been taken on by solicitor Helen Grady, a specialist in asbestos disease working for Novum Law, who wants any workers at the hospital who may also have been affected to come forward. She said:

“Understandably Shirley and her family are extremely upset and have been left shattered by her diagnosis. Our research suggests that there was a lot of asbestos at the hospital. Many workers may have been unaware of the dangers. Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive and incurable cancer that is extremely debilitating for sufferers who were exposed to deadly asbestos simply by going to work every day.”

The Brookwood Hospital, near Woking, was originally built in 1867, and was one of the largest asylums in the country. It was sold for redevelopment in 1994, and now includes luxury housing and a supermarket.

Herne Bay Gazette, February 5th 2015

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