I am backing Asbestos Actions’ calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers across the country. That is why I joined the group at Holyrood to launch their new support booklet for those affected by the conditions.
Asbestos related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year. To put that in context, that is more than are killed on the roads throughout the country.
Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis.
Thousands were affected because employers, particularly in the construction industry, failed to provide workers with safety gear or breathing apparatus.
I know the effects of asbestos on a loved one. Last year my own father passed away from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos as a sheet metal worker in the 1970s. I understood the anger of thousands of Scots because of how avoidable these deaths are.
Although we got the support my dad needed it was sometimes a struggle and I’ve witnessed a real postcode lottery when it comes to people receiving the medical or pastoral care they need and deserve.
We need to see improvements to bridge these gaps but also to secure the support needed and educate the next generation of health and social workers to make them aware of the impacts on individuals and families because conditions linked to asbestos will continue for decades to come.
If you need support or know someone who does then you can find out about Asbestos Action via their website: http://www.asbestosaction.org.uk/