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February 26, 2009

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Government urged to act to support mesothelioma victims

A range of events will take place throughout the UK today (27 February) to mark Action Mesothelioma Day 2009 and raise awareness of the asbestos-related cancer, which affects and kills thousands of people every year.

The campaign is organised by the British Lung Foundation, which, on the inaugural Day in 2006, delivered the Mesothelioma Charter to 10 Downing Street. Signed by 14,000 people the Charter calls for improved care and treatment for mesothelioma patients, better protection for employees, and more funding for research.

The Day is supported by Unite the union, which is calling for millions to be invested in research to treat mesothelioma sufferers, and support their families. Said joint general secretary, Derek Simpson: “This horrific disease, caused mainly by exposure to asbestos, has been rife within industries in which our members have traditionally worked, such as engineering, construction, ship-building, and railways. We will continue to fight for those who have been affected to ensure they receive adequate compensation, but our fight will not stop there. We want to make sure adequate resources are available to find better medical treatments and, hopefully, a cure.”

The union wants the Government to provide funding for a National Centre for Asbestos-Related Disease to keep the UK in line with other western countries. Chair of the British Mesothelioma Interest Group, consultant thoracic surgeon John Edwards, said: “Researchers are desperate for funds to develop life-saving treatments. Mesothelioma is far and away the least-researched of the top 20 cancers in the UK. Funding for a UK National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases is a priority. Such a virtual institution would encourage collaboration and stimulate research to generate future treatments to prolong and save lives.”

Industrial disease specialists Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is also urging the Government to create a central insurance fund to help provide support for those suffering from mesothelioma, and other occupational diseases. Roger Maddocks, partner of the firm’s North East office, called for the establishment of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB), which would give workers protection similar to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which pays out compensation claims for road users hit by uninsured and untraced drivers.

He added: “With all mesothelioma claims, time is of the essence — it is a fatal and vicous disease that usually kills its victims within 12 months — and a database of insurers would help speed up the claim process. The ELIB would provide a vital last resort in those cases where an insurer cannot be traced.”

Cases of mesothelioma in the UK are expected to peak in 2015, with a death rate of 2450 people.

For a moving account of how mesothelioma affected one man’s life, see SHP’s feature ‘Mesothelioma: Bob’s story

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

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