• Brachers was again honoured to host the Action Mesothelioma Day Medway event on 5 July 2019, together with Alan McKenna of Kent University and Mesothelioma UK. Action Mesothelioma Day is an annual national event held to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos disease risks, promote support for current suffers and remember those who mesothelioma/asbestos has tragically taken.

    The event was held at the Chatham Royal Dockyard Church for the third consecutive year; the location where many of Kent & Medway’s mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos. Alan Mckenna opened the event with a poignant release of doves in memory of those who had passed away due to mesothelioma. He read out just some of the names of recent local mesothelioma victims. Many of those were represented by their families attending the event.

    There was a short address by Jeremy Horton, a partner at Brachers, specialising in asbestos-related injury claims, Kent’s only APIL-accredited asbestos disease specialist. Jeremy reported on the HSE’s latest mesothelioma death statistics (for 2017), published that week. These indicated that mesothelioma deaths were continuing at the expected peak level of just over 2,500 a year (with an estimated similar number for deaths from other asbestos-related lung cancers). The numbers were currently predicted to start gradually falling from 2020, but on “the average projections … even by 2030 we will still be seeing mesothelioma deaths of around 1,600 per year.”

    Jeremy highlighted the rising number of mesothelioma deaths from outside traditional heavy/building trades, including an increasing number of women. The evidence suggested a likely continuing trend of public service workers developing mesothelioma, especially school teachers, who were now 5 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the average. This, he suggested, pointed to the growing risk of deteriorating asbestos materials in so many of our public building, especially our schools, 87% of which contained asbestos, according to Department of Education figures. Jeremy advised that even more concerning was the report published in the press only this morning that 676 of our schools were found not to be taking the required measures to control risks from their asbestos. He commented that if this put our teachers at risk it must put our school children at even greater risk. To protect future generations, he echoed the calls for a systematic scheme of risk assessment and removal of asbestos from our schools.

    There was then a positive and informative talk by Dr Peter Szlosarek, the leading oncologist from St Bart’s Hospital, London, on the ongoing search for more effective treatments to fight mesothelioma. This includes the use of immunotherapy to help patient’s immune system fight the cancer cells and also attempts to starve cancer cells of proteins. As a leading specialist in developing cancer treatments, Dr Szlosarek spoke about how the combination of separate treatments can lead to significantly increased survival time for some patients, although they did not work for everyone. He provided details of the various trials which were taking place attempting to improve the treatment of mesothelioma.

    After Dr Szosarek’s presentation, attendees continued discussions of the issues raised over a buffet lunch. Members of Brachers’ personal injury team were then on hand to provide help and advice to asbestos disease victims and their families about potential compensation, welfare benefits and any other issues.

    As a firm, Brachers has developed their expertise to become specialists in mesothelioma and asbestos-related injury claims, an issue of particular relevance to Medway, being one of the areas hardest hit by asbestos/mesothelioma deaths.

    Action Mesothelioma Day 2019 was a valuable reminder that the battle against mesothelioma and asbestosis is by no means over. It was also good to see continuing local support and evidence of extensive efforts by the medical profession to improve treatment and, perhaps one day, find a cure for this dreadful disease.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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