Asbestos Diagnosis, Treatment and Covid-19
At the height of lockdown, many cancer patients were experiencing severe delays to their treatment. Many already diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer faced delays to the start of their treatment schedules with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and cancer surgery put on hold as hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients.
We know that many people were afraid to visit their doctor’s surgery for fear of catching the virus. In fact, in some parts of the country, cancer referrals dropped by 75% at the peak of the pandemic, as people stayed at home to protect the NHS .
Others have confused asbestos disease symptoms with the onset of COVID-19 and as a result, have delayed seeing their GP.
It is important that anyone experiencing asbestos disease symptoms seeks medical advice. Of course, not all asbestos diseases are malignant (cancerous) but with mesothelioma or lung cancer, a quick and accurate diagnosis is essential so that treatment can start as soon as possible.
It is also very important for those individuals to know that they will be kept safe when they do attend hospital or the GP surgery. Far fewer people are being admitted now with symptoms of COVID-19 and testing is also underway for people coming in for invasive procedures. This means there is a much reduced chance of coming into contact with another person who is harbouring the virus.
Cancer services are opening up
The good news is that cancer services are starting to get back up and running. The NHS has a way to go to clear the significant backlog of patients waiting for diagnostics and treatment but the health service is working extremely hard to help as many patients as possible.
Screening programmes are now restarting and the numbers of urgent cancer referrals are increasing.
Cancer hubs are being created to support hospitals and the NHS and private sector are working together to make sure patients receive the care that they need.
For patients with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, healthcare teams and clinical nurse specialists are doing all they can to deliver appropriate treatment and care.
From a legal claim perspective, despite the obvious limitations caused by lockdown our solicitors have taken every measure possible to ensure that our patients and their clients’ cases are progressed as quickly as possible. It is unfortunate that neither they, nor we have been able to meet with patients/clients face to face although have we have kept in regular contact via telephone, email and where possible video conferencing.
The courts have remained open with hearings dealt with by telephone and video conferencing where possible and are endeavouring to deal with asbestos claims in a timely fashion. Our solicitors tell us that they have been fortunate in that they have experienced no significant delays in obtaining medical records from Hospitals and GP surgeries despite the added problems these organisations have faced in relation Covid-19. Cases are moving forward and settlements achieved.
If a patient is considering making a legal claim our recommendation is to act promptly. Sadly asbestos diseases and some in particular, can cause health to deteriorate rapidly. We do understand that embarking on a legal claim might be the last thing that a person would want to consider being faced with a diagnosis relating to asbestos, however we would encourage them to speak to a Solicitor at an nearly stage so that they can take details of how, where and when the individual was exposed to asbestos, most importantly so that the evidence can be preserved whether they choose to bring a claim now or at a later stage. This will allow individuals or their families to have the best possible chance of recovering compensation.
The key thing to remember is that if you or a family member has asbestos disease, you are not alone. These are uncertain times but there is an invaluable support network available whatever stage you are at.