A hospital plumber, who has been told he has only months to live after developing mesothelioma, has received £175,000 in compensation, with the help of UNISON.

The UK’s largest public sector union helped Alan Ward, who is now living in Worle, in Weston-super-Mare, pursue an 18 month personal injury claim against Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority when he developed the cancer of the lung lining.

The 61-year-old had been exposed to asbestos while working in a number of hospitals in the Wakefield area between 1964 and 1972, including removing asbestos lagging at Clayton Hospital and at Oulton Hall Hospital.

Never been warned about the dangers to his health

But he had never been warned about the dangers to his health during his time as a plumber and had not been provided with any protection.

Mr Ward later moved into more technical roles in local government and moved away from Yorkshire.

Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority settled the claim out of court.

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said: “Alan is one of a growing number of workers whose health has been fatally damaged just through going to work.

“The money will help make his remaining months comfortable, but no amount can compensate him for what he is suffering.

“Employers have to face up to their responsibilities to make sure they don’t put their workers at risk of injury or death.”

Achieve a settlement in his lifetime

Mr Ward said: “I am pleased to have received compensation, as it will help cover the cost of living when my health fails further.

“The disease is progressing slowly, but I’m in a lot of pain and all they can do now is just keep increasing the painkillers.

“I was given 18 months to live, but that was over two years ago, so it’s been longer than was anticipated.

“I didn’t know about the dangers when I was 23, we just smashed off the asbestos and carried on working.

“Employers need to identify and manage any asbestos and should inform workers if they are at risk.”

Eamonn McDonough, from Thompson’s Solicitors, said: “Mr Ward knows that his time is now short and is determined to live life to the fullest while he still can.

“It was essential to achieve a settlement in his lifetime, as he has no dependents or next of kin.

“The assistance of his union enabled his claim to be dealt with quickly by our specialist asbestos litigation team.

“This compensation will enable him to enjoy some comforts that he would otherwise have not been able to afford.”