Asbestos support group co-ordinator aids National Assembly hopeful

Edward Gilbertson, co-ordinator of the South Wales Asbestos Support Group (SWASG) has spent time assisting Mick Antoniw, a National Assembly candidate for Wales in a bid to raise the awareness of the devastating effects of asbestos.

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Eddie has been out recently helping Mick Antoniw put together a video to aid his campaign as a candidate for Pontypridd in the Welsh National Assembly.

“The work and time he puts in to assisting asbestos suffers all around Wales is so good to see, it’s a pleasure to assist him with anything he is doing,” says Eddie.

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Mick Antoniw and asbestos

Mick Antoniw has been representing Pontypridd at the Welsh National Assembly since 2011, and has done much to support those affected by asbestos and asbestos-related conditions.

A former solicitor, Mick has campaigned tirelessly for the benefit of those who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related conditions, including trying to push the Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill in 2015.

Mr Antoniw believed that where an employer has been negligent and civil compensation is due, the NHS should be reimbursed with the cost of the medical treatment.

Mick proposed the Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill in a bid to raise as much as £1 million a year for the Welsh NHS from employers or their insurers for treatment costs for diseases like mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.

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But, after the insurance industries expressed concerns, the Bill was referred to the Supreme Court by the Welsh Government, who went on to say that the bill is outside of what is known as the legislative competence of the assembly.

The Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly went out of its law-making remit with the proposed bill that would have recovered costs from treating asbestos-related diseases.

He said at the time: “I am gutted that the Supreme Court have found in favour of insurance company interests … and my heart goes out to the victims and families of asbestos disease who stood to benefit.

“The decision places unacceptable restrictions on the ability of the Welsh Government to act in cases such as this and undermines devolution.”

Help us support a Swansea pensioner’s pleural plaques petition

PP petition Mr LeggWe’re giving our backing to a Swansea pensioner in his bid to petition for justice for those who have developed pleural plaques after exposure to asbestos.

The South Wales Asbestos Support Group (SWASG) and the National Asbestos Helpline are supporting Brian Legg’s ongoing fight for compensation for people with the asbestos-related lung disease.

The 82-year-old campaigner hopes to inspire more than 10,000 people to sign a petition calling for compensation to be reinstated for sufferers of pleural plaque. If the target is reached by August 22, the Westminster government will be forced to consider the issue and respond to the petition.

To sign the petition to reinstate compensation to sufferers of pleural plaque in England and Wales go to petition.parliament.uk/petitions/118949.

In 2007 the House of Lords ruled people with the condition would no longer qualify for compensation after insurance companies challenged workers’ rights to claim. Compensation for pleural plaque was reinstated in Scotland in 2009 and Northern Ireland in 2011 through legislation passed by the devolved parliaments. But if a person with pleural plaque was exposed to asbestos in England and Wales they still cannot claim.

Brian says: “I was one of the lucky ones, I received compensation before the House of Lords ruling but what about all the hard working men and women living with pleural plaque – and living with the knowledge that asbestos is in their lungs. This is why I am campaigning; those men and women deserve better and should be entitled to claim.”

Our group coordinator, Edward Gilbertson was diagnosed with pleural plaque in 1999. He says: “All of our members at SWASG are 100 per cent behind Brian’s bid to get 10,000 signatures and make the government look at this unfair decision again.

“When you’re told you have asbestos fibres in your lungs – no matter how serious the related condition – it’s frightening and isolating. What does it mean for your health and future? It’s constantly at the back of your mind.”

Pleural plaque is a scarring on the outer lining of the lung caused by breathing in asbestos dust and fibres. It develops 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos but it does not cause any long-term health problems, and the scarring is not cancerous.

Colin Tunstall, from the National Asbestos Helpline, says: “While pleural plaque is a benign condition is it evidence that a person has been exposed to asbestos dust and fibres, and it’s on their lungs. There always remains a risk of developing a separate and more serious asbestos lung condition; such as asbestosis, pleural thickening, lung cancer or mesothelioma, which remain conditions that a sufferer can claim compensation for.

“We have more than 3,000 people on our pleural plaque register. We advise them to keep an eye on their breathing and general health in case the worst does happen. It’s important to say that the vast majority of them will not develop something more serious – but that doesn’t stop the worry. It’s understandable that they are concerned about their exposure. And, it’s only right that they should receive something for living with a potentially deadly material lodged in their lungs, which is there through no fault of their own.”

Don’t forget to sign the petition to reinstate compensation to sufferers of pleural plaque in England and Wales. Go straight to petition.parliament.uk/petitions/118949.

The time and place of our April asbestos meeting

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 28, at the Taffs Well Rugby Club (Maes Gwyn, Glan-Y-Llyn Square Taffs Well, Cardiff, CF15 7JD) between 12 noon and 3pm.

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We hope to see some new members, as well as our regulars, at the April meeting. SWASG meetings are for anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related lung condition or anyone concerned about past exposure to asbestos. Friends and family of sufferers are also very welcome or if you are just interested in finding out more about asbestos diseases or what we do.

It is very informal and there will be a chance to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, a little something to eat, and a chat.

If you would like more information or need help with getting to the meeting then do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.

Insight into our March meeting

It was great to see everyone who could make our March meeting at Taffs Well Rugby Club.

We welcomed a couple of new members and our regulars had a chance to catch up. There was plenty of chat, tea drinking and cake.

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The next SWASG meeting will be held on April 28 and we will update you soon about the day. Also, on July 21 we will be holding a meeting at Maggie’s Swansea. More news about that soon too, but if you don’t know about the amazing work of Maggie’s Centres then please take a look at the charity’s website here – they do fantastic and vital work for people with cancer, and their family and friends.