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Study suggests number of healthcare staff exposed to asbestos is underreported

Andrew Morgan was recently involved in the Healthcare Staff Mesothelioma Asbestos Guidance Study (MAGS) funded by Mesothelioma UK in conjunction with Sheffield University to analyse the experiences of healthcare staff diagnosed with mesothelioma. The study reviewed current literature on mesothelioma, an FOI request to NHS Resolution regarding negligence claims following exposure to asbestos and interviews with healthcare staff likely exposed to asbestos while working for the NHS.
 
Perhaps the most startling finding of the study is that current official data underrepresent the number of healthcare staff exposed to asbestos and suffering mesothelioma, based on the actual number of negligence claims against the NHS. It also suggests that doctors and nurses diagnosed with mesothelioma were more likely to be critical of some of the care provided.

The final copy of the full report will be available soon on the Mesothelioma UK website. The study suggests that regular FOI requests are made to NHS Resolution to provide a more accurate picture of the extent of mesothelioma among healthcare staff. It also suggests that awareness of asbestos risk be added to mandatory training for new NHS staff.

Andrew said: "We see too many cases of healthcare staff, including doctors, nurses and administrative support staff exposed to asbestos while working in hospitals, for example, via damaged lagging on out-of-date heating systems and pipes. This is in addition to the avoidable deaths of heating and maintenance staff where the risks are "obvious" rather than "foreseeable". 

"It is also vital that current staff understand the risks, not least because many hospitals still contain asbestos  People must know how find and understand the Asbestos Register and to protect themselves at work where necessary."

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