A number of our chest and asbestos disease team in Cardiff were lucky enough to gather in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, for part of the Global Asbestos Awareness Week commemorations.
Jo and Lorna from Asbestos Awareness and Support Cymru (AASC) were the organisers, ensuring that the event took place.
Once again the reality of the deadly legacy left by asbestos was brought to the fore. Events like this remind us all, if ever reminding was needed, that this is not an historic problem but one which families still have to face every day in Wales and indeed right around the world.
The speakers provided various prompts in outlining what is happening in Wales today, yet also sadly stressed what still needs to be done to tackle the havoc that asbestos exposure continues to leave in its wake.
The opening address was made by Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well Being and Sport. Mr Gething spoke about reconstituting Mr Antoniw’s Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill and the importance of cross border sharing of resources.
Mick Antoniw, AM Counsel General, continued Mr Gething’s passion for the resurrection of the Bill and also spoke about the work of the Cross Party Group on asbestos.
Mr John Evans, Technical Director for Santia Asbestos Management Ltd, then spoke about the different types of asbestos and its uses. Particularly disturbing was Mr Evans’ explanation of the ongoing risks we still face given that the use of asbestos was only banned in 1999.
Events like this remind us all, if ever reminding was needed, that this is not an historic problem but one which families still have to face every day in Wales and indeed right around the world.
Dr Jason Lester from the Velindre Cancer Centre also gave a fascinating talk on the James Lind Alliance research priorities and provided some much needed grounds for hope. There are a number of exciting and potentially life-changing trials underway, some of which are taking place in Wales. These are not silver bullets in the making, but as he and other speakers stressed, it is only with the hard graft (and cash!) put into research and trials, that we can hope to make progress towards effective treatments.
The work at Velindre under Dr Lester is supported by a cohort of other bodies and individuals. It was especially interesting to hear from Sarah Morgan and her work with the local patients, a mesothelioma specialist nurse recently appointed and dedicated to Welsh patients; a step which could not have happened without the support of Mesothelioma UK.
In her speech Liz Darlinson, Director of Mesothelioma UK, spoke about their desire to extend the number of specialist mesothelioma nurses to 30 in the future. I was particularly interested to hear that a surgical procedure is available that may help with pain relief but frustratingly this is only available in four centres in the UK. Liz emphasized the need for funding for this treatment in other locations and urged local experts to approach them about this.
I suspect that the main point most of us took from the meeting was the privilege of hearing Jo’s own story. Her written account of her family’s devastating journey following her father’s diagnosis was incredibly moving. Although it must have been very raw to write, AASC now have a practical and very personal account of someone who has experienced this awful condition first hand.
In the years ahead I am sure that far too many people in Wales will sadly still need to find solace through Jo’s words.
We all left the event extremely proud to sponsor and be associated with AASC’s fantastic work. Both Lorna and Jo from AASC and the speakers’ commitment to the cause was impressive and inspiring.
For more information, please visit the AASC website.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of asbestos compensation solicitors that deal with mesothelioma claims on a no win no fee basis. For a free consultation call 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.