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2 September 2019 | Comment | Article by Richard Green

Significant settlement secured with access to evolving medical treatment not yet available on the NHS for living mesothelioma sufferer

Our Asbestos team has secured access to evolving medical treatment not currently available on the NHS that may improve the quality and length of life of a mesothelioma sufferer.

This is a rare case, where access to potentially life-prolonging treatment has been secured during the client’s lifetime, alongside a separate monetary settlement of £235,000.00.

Wayne Churches, 73, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of lung cancer which is exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Mr Churches was exposed to asbestos whilst working as an engineer at Pen-y-Fai Hospital, Bridgend and Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny.

Mr Churches said: “I spent 40 years working with asbestos at hospitals. I was never told that asbestos was a problem. I remember going into work at Nevill Hall, and one of the jobs I had to do regularly was clearing out the air ducts which were lagged with asbestos. The only equipment I was given was a torch – nobody wore protective masks. After I finished, I just brushed the dust off my clothes and cleaned myself up as much as I could.

“I retired in 2010 at the age of 66. When you retire you think, ‘Now I’m comfortable and I can do the things I want to do’, but the mesothelioma lay dormant without me knowing. About five years into my retirement, I noticed I was short of breath and felt tired like I didn’t have any energy. I went for a series of tests and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2017.

“The diagnosis was devastating for all of us. I’d always been in good health and I’d never smoked. I’d taken it in good faith that the environments I worked in were safe.”

Married for 42 years, with three children and three grandchildren, Mr Churches devoted his life to the NHS, as did his wife who worked as an occupational therapist. The only treatment available to Mr Churches on the NHS was palliative in nature.

Immunotherapy treatment in respect of mesothelioma is currently an evolving treatment which has seen some positive results in clinical trials. However, this form of treatment is not currently available as a matter of course on the NHS. It was when Mr Churches was discussing his claim with his solicitors that he was advised of the possibility of including provision for immunotherapy treatment as part of his claim.

Mr Churches has defied the odds to date, feeling generally well in the 18 months following his diagnosis, but over recent weeks his condition has deteriorated, resulting in a permanent pleural drain being inserted into his lung.

He said: “The immunotherapy treatment that Hugh James has secured provision for will hopefully buy me a bit more time. That’s the thing I’m most grateful for – you can’t put a value on that.

“I’ve been awarded some financial compensation, but money isn’t everything. We might use some of it to go on holiday – it’s a lot more expensive for me to go anywhere now because of the equipment I need for my lungs – but apart from that we’ll probably use it to help our children out financially or put it into university funds for our grandchildren.”

He has maintained an active role in his grandchildren’s lives, particularly with his grandson Rio, 8, who enjoys playing DIY with the ex-engineer.

He continued: “Our daughters are both working single parents, so I help them out with picking up the grandkids from school and looking after them on evenings and weekends. I’d like to see my girls get married and be there to watch my grandchildren grow up.

“I want others like me, who were exposed to asbestos through their work, to hear my story and realise immunotherapy is an option, so that they have more time to spend with the people they love.”

Immunotherapy is a pioneering new method used to treat mesothelioma. Although it will not cure the cancer, it can improve the patient’s quality of life or even extend it. Despite the obvious benefits, immunotherapy is not offered by the NHS, and Mr Churches was not even made aware of it by his NHS doctors.

This case goes much further than financial compensation – what’s really important is that Mr Churches now has access to the best possible medical treatment. We hope that his case serves to raise awareness of – and support for – immunotherapy as a viable mesothelioma treatment in the UK.

Visit the Asbestos page for more information about the work we do with mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions.

Author bio

Richard Green


Richard is a Partner and Head of the Asbestos Litigation team. Richard specialises in asbestos-related disease claims and has recovered millions of pounds in compensation for his clients.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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