20th Jan, 2020

Mum with terminal cancer in appeal over asbestos at former Coventry hospital

Felix Nobes 11th Dec, 2018

A CANCER-STRICKEN 43-year-old doctor given only a few years to live is appealing to Walsgrave Hospital staff from 1998 to 2004 to come forward if they know about an asbestos risk in the building.

Dr Kate Richmond is a married mother of two children, aged six and nine, now living in Australia.

She had her life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given between two and three years to live.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer which is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.

Dr Richmond suspects her condition may relate to her time as a medic at Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital, where she could have been inhaling asbestos.

She believes she was exposed in walk-through tunnels in the hospital building.

She said: “The hospital was demolished in around 2004.

“I remember walking through the tunnels on a daily basis and workmen working on lagged pipes overhead.”

The tunnels are no longer in existence since the hospital was demolished in 2004.

Dr Richmond’s legal team from Leigh Day solicitors, based in London, has researched demolition firms which, it claims, removed asbestos from the building.

But it is now seeking people who worked at the building for further information.

Dr Richmond is now a practising GP in Melbourne, Australia.

She visited her doctor earlier this year after feeling unwell for a few weeks.

She was short of breath and had a swollen stomach.

A scan found she had peritoneal mesothelioma.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting to be told at all,” she said. “When they told me, I thought I was going to have six months to live.

“My husband was with me and it was very emotional for both of us.”

She was rushed in for surgery the very next day.

Her uterus, ovaries and appendix all had to be removed and an oncologist told her she had a life expectancy of two to three years.

She said: “It was awful, I cried and said, ‘but I’m only in my 40s, I have young kids and I need to be around for them’.”

Asbestos claims lawyer Daniel Easton said: “This is a tragic case and we are working hard to find the source of her exposure to asbestos.

“We need additional information about asbestos at the hospital and particularly want to speak to employees who walked through the basement, possibly even workmen who may have carried out maintenance or other families who may have been affected.”

A spokesperson from University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire Trust (UHCW – which now runs the hospital at Walsgrave) said: “Where claims or concerns are raised regarding the trust we ensure we investigate them thoroughly and respond appropriately.

“We are unable to comment on individual cases.”

If anyone has any information, please contact Daniel Easton at Leigh Day on 020 7650 1226 or email Dan at: deaston@leighday.co.uk All information received will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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