London hospital trust paid £1.3m in asbestos compensation
One of London's largest health trusts has paid out more than £1.3 million in compensation to people who developed illnesses from asbestos while in hospital.
The trust is just one of many London hospitals and health centres which contain the microscopic harmful minerals, commonly used in building materials for years.
Both of its major hospitals and six of its smaller community centres still contain asbestos and £3.9 million has been spent on removing it since 2001.
Liz Darlison, consultant nurse and director of services at charity Mesothelioma UK, said she has "lost count" of the number of doctors and nurses with mesothelioma - a rare cancer which can be caused by asbestos.
She said: "It's not just doctors and nurses but maintenance people and hospital workers generally.
"But it doesn't matter what your background is or career pathway, whether you are a doctor, secretary or car mechanic, nobody expects to have a life-limiting disease."
Ms Darlison told the Standard she sees many cases of hospital workers who have developed the rare cancer related to asbestos.
"It's not just doctors and nurses but maintenance people and hospital workers generally," she said.
Asbestos is responsible for the deaths of around 5,000 workers every year and can be present in any building built or refurbished before 2000. The substance only becomes harmful when material containing asbestos is disturbed and the fibres are inhaled.
A spokesperson from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said: “Guy’s and St Thomas’ is one of the largest trusts providing both hospital and community services from many sites.
“We have a major capital development programme each year, much of which involves carrying out renovations and developments within existing buildings. This will sometimes involve the removal of asbestos as part of these works.”