A Teesside asbestos worker who was diagnosed with pleural plaques just nine years ago has been told he has just months to live after developing the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

Alan Clark, 59, from Hartlepool is calling on the government to reinstate compensation for people diagnosed with pleural plaques, a scarring on the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos. He has been a strong supporter of the campaign for the right to compensation to be restored after it was ended by the House of Lords in 2007.

Alan was one of many North East workers who travelled to London last year to attend the trade union lobby of Parliament calling for the law to be changed.

Pleural plaques sufferers should be compensated for the damage to their lungs

Alan said: “When I was diagnosed with pleural plaques I panicked. It felt like my death certificate had been signed and I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was told I had mesothelioma. I worried about it ever since.

“I never expected to get cancer so quickly. I thought I had decades left. I am living proof that pleural plaques can lead to mesothelioma and I want the government to take what has happened to me into consideration. Pleural plaques sufferers should be compensated for the damage to their lungs and the worry of the death sentence hanging over them. They should receive that compensation quickly.”

Alan, who is married to wife Stella and has three daughters and a grandson, was diagnosed with pleural plaques in 2000 and accepted a provisional settlement wanting to be sure he could claim further compensation if he went on to develop cancer.

Exposed to asbestos while working

He was exposed to asbestos while working on various industrial sites in Teesside and elsewhere in the UK. His father, who also worked with asbestos, also died from mesothelioma 12 years ago.

In 2008 Alan went to his GP after first becoming unwell and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early 2009. He is now pursuing a mesothelioma compensation claim with the support of the GMB union and asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors.

He said he wants the government to make sure pleural plaques sufferers get compensation and that they receive it quickly.

He added: "When I was diagnosed with pleural plaques I knew that eventually my death would be caused by asbestos. It is disgusting to think the law currently doesn’t accept that pleural plaques are a real injury. Here I am dying of this terrible disease only nine years after being told I had pleural plaques. I’m not the only one with pleural plaques who will get mesothelioma. It is as if the government is ignoring that people like me exist."

Pleural plaques are associated with an increased risk of developing mesothelioma

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors added: "Mr Clark is proof of the dangers of asbestos and that pleural plaques are associated with an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. The worst outcome can and does happen to people with pleural plaques, as this case so tragically shows. The insurance industry would prefer to dismiss that risk in order to avoid paying compensation for pleural plaques.

"Only the government’s long awaited announcement on pleural plaques can remedy this injustice."

This news story was also published by Hartlepool Mail.