Asbestos cancer death toll still rising

THE death toll claimed by asbestos-related cancer in North Tyneside is twice as high as the national average, statistics reveal.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has issued figures showing that the borough has the fifth highest death rate for mesothelioma in England and Wales.

Mesothelioma, a cancer mainly affecting workers exposed to asbestos, killed 98 North Tynesiders between 2006 and 2010.

That is equivalent to 5.8 deaths per 100,000 people between 2006 and 2010, well above the national average of 2.5.

That grim statistic drew a mixed response from mesothelioma charity campaigner Chris Knighton, of Wallsend.

Chris, pictured, founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, named after her late husband, said: “I was shocked but then, on the other hand, not.

“The statistics are rising at a frightening rate.

“It’s more than twice the national average, and it’s a sad indication of our industrial past.

“Since starting the charity in 2002, I have become more aware of how many people this affects, and you hear about more and more people all the time.

“This is why it is so important that our work here at the charity continues.”

Association president David Bott said: “What many people do not realise is that hundreds of sufferers across the UK cannot get the compensation they need to help them through the last days of their life.

“What is needed is for the government to bring forward proposals for a fund of last resort which would act as a safety net for injured workers otherwise unable to pursue the justice they deserve.”

Often, workers only start showing symptoms of mesothelioma decades later, during which time many of their employers had gone out of business, he added.