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Hospital asbestos exposure led to the death of doctor
A DOCTOR from Wallingford died after years of exposure to asbestos when he was a medical student, a court heard.
Andrew Lawson, 55, who died from the cancer mesothelioma in February, contracted the disease as a consequence of training at Guy’s Hospital, London, from 1976 to 1982.
Oxfordshire assistant coroner Peter Clark ruled yesterday that the father-of-three died of the industrial disease.
Dr Lawson’s wife, Juliet Lawson, 53, who is also a doctor, said in a statement: “Andrew could not think of any significant source of asbestos ... except for the underground tunnels at Guy’s.”
She said that after her husband, who lived at Thame Road, Wallingford, was diagnosed with the inoperable disease in 2007, he was contacted by a professor who had also worked at the hospital and had contracted mesothelioma.
A statement made by Dr Lawson before his death was read out as evidence at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court.
He said he was exposed to asbestos-coated steam pipes in underground tunnels that connected the medical school and the hospital.
He added: “There were always people doing repairs.
“Typically, I would make three or four return trips each day.”
Dr Lawson reached an out-of-court settlement with the hospital and medical school in 2009, which included a confidentiality clause.
His solicitor, Andrew Morgan, told the Oxford Mail: “Dr Lawson is one of a number of tragic cases for mesothelioma we have brought on behalf of former medical and dental students. But we know there are other cases across the country.”
Calls have been made for more research into the issue.
Rebecca Lewington, 31, whose father Larrie Lewington died from mesothelioma last October, after being exposed to asbestos while working for Witney-based Kidlington Insulation in the 1970s, said: “It’s a horrible disease from which there’s no coming back.”
Miss Lewington, who lives in Eynsham, added: “There’s got to be more research being put into this, especially considering this is a man-made disease. These people didn’t need to die.”
A spokeswoman for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital said: “We didn’t accept liability at the time the claim was made. We are very sorry to hear that Dr Lawson has died, and extend our condolences to his family.
“The asbestos in the basement area concerned was removed in the 1990s.”
After being diagnosed, Mr Lawson was forced to retire at the age of 48 from his job as a consultant in anaesthesia and pain management at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
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