Hope for asbestos pleural plaques sufferers in Northern Ireland

Hope for asbestos pleural plaques sufferers in Northern Ireland


The Damages (asbestos-related conditions) Bill passed its final stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly this week, and is now awaiting Royal Assent.

The bill will overturn the October 2007 House of Lords decision in the case of Johnson v NEI Combustion Ltd, when it was ruled that compensation would no longer be paid to those diagnosed with pleural plaques.

Since that decision there has been much lobbying of the UK Government to introduce legislation to overturn this decision, but in early 2010 the Government rejected campaigners' calls.

This is in contrast to the approach taken by the Scottish Parliament passing The Damages (Asbestos–related conditions (Scotland) Act on 17 April 2009, to ensure pleural plaques sufferers will be compensated. Now Northern Ireland appears to be following the Scottish lead.

The UK Government did put a scheme in place last year that will make a one-off compensation payment of £5000 for anyone who started a pleural plaques claim prior to 17 October 2007. All applications must be received by 1 August 2011.

For more information about whether you qualify for a payment, or to apply, you can call the Government helpline on 0300 3038150.

Although they do not cause symptoms, anyone diagnosed with the condition will be understandably concerned about the potential risk of developing a more serious asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or pleural thickening. Compensation for these conditions can still be claimed for.

This causes those who have been diagnosed with pleural plaques a great deal of anxiety and distress.

It is disappointing that the UK Government has not followed the lead of the Scottish Parliament as the Irish Assembly is now doing.

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