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Slater and Gordon Back Asbestos Campaigners Call to Save Phoenix House in Barrow

By Chartered Legal Executive, Industrial Disease

Slater and Gordon Lawyers proudly back the call to support asbestos campaigners’ pleas to save vital Phoenix House service in Barrow.

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The Stephen Street office, which processes industrial injuries and disablement benefit, is one of dozens of Department for Work and Pensions sites across the country proposed for closure. Among the functions undertaken by the centre’s highly skilled staff is the administration of complex benefits including lump sum payments under the Pneumoconiosis (Worker’s Compensation) Act 1979 to those across the country living with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

The unfortunate reality is that victims of industrial diseases, such as mesothelioma, are unaware of their illness until decades after their initial exposure to the carcinogenic materials. Many people do not realise the importance of the help provided by the likes of Phoenix House until the day it is needed.

Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock, has argued in Parliament against plans to close  the centre, which processes industrial injuries benefits for seriously and terminally ill people. During a debate in Westminster Hall, Mr Woodcock highlighted the expertise in Barrow in assisting people with industrial related diseases such as asbestosis, and how they help cut the time it takes to get a settlement on their case.

For victims of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening, we regularly see how specialist support and reducing the processing time for receiving compensation in the form of benefits can make a huge difference – especially for those diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

Many people do not realise the importance of the help provided by the likes of Phoenix House until the day it is needed.

Bob Pointer, Chairman of Cumbria Asbestos Related Disease Support (CARDS) in association with the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, has asked the council to support Phoenix House by writing to the Secretary of State, the RT Hon Damian Green MP, to fight for the future of the building. For people affected in Barrow – an area affected by diseases of its rich industrial past – the nearest office would be Blackpool, which would be an unfair distance to travel for the help they are entitled to.

It would be a huge step backwards to lose the highly efficient service that Phoenix House provides to the most vulnerable asbestos sufferers across the country. This will not just affect local people.

 As Bob points out, in local terms it would also be a great loss for residents in the Barrow area and for staff who will potentially lose their jobs . 

The staff at Barrow are experienced and sympathetic to the needs of terminally ill and dying claimants and I have had only positive experiences of dealing with them. They understand that time is of the essence in many of these claims. Unfortunately the statistics indicate that asbestos related illness is likely to be problem for the foreseeable future and we do not have the luxury of doing away with these specialist services yet.

We are asking anyone who would like to support the campaign to stop closure of Phoenix House to sign the letter to the Secretary of State prepared by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK.

Emma Newman is a personal injury litigation executive specialising in asbestos claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of asbestos compensation solicitors that deal with asbestos 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.

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