An engineer who was diagnosed with a fatal asbestos related cancer only after he sought help from his trade union has received substantial compensation from his former employers.

The 59-year-old from Oldham in Lancashire was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2011 after suffering from stomach pain and weight loss.

There is no cure for mesothelioma which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

The GMB member was exposed to asbestos whilst working as an apprentice and a thermal insulation engineer between 1967 and 1974. His job involved stripping old asbestos lagging from boilers and pipe work.

In 2003, the engineer developed pleural plaques, a scarring on the lining of the lungs. At that time it was possible to claim compensation for pleural plaques and with help from the GMB and its lawyers he made a successful claim.

He chose a provisional settlement which meant that if he went on to develop other serious asbestos related diseases he would be able to reopen his claim.

He began to suffer symptoms of mesothelioma in June 2010 but was unable to get a conclusive diagnosis from medical professionals

Instructed national specialist asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors

He then contacted the GMB which instructed national specialist asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors to investigate. Thompsons arranged for the member’s condition to be assessed by a leading independent medical expert who was able to confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

This meant he was able to receive appropriate medical treatment as well as obtain full compensation for his illness.

The father of four said: “When I first began to lose weight I had a suspicion that I might be suffering from mesothelioma. My doctor said it was likely but the medical evidence wasn’t conclusive. I decided to contact the GMB because I knew that if it was mesothelioma I would have to get my affairs in order.

“Thompsons arranged for me to get an independent opinion from a nationally recognised medical expert which resulted in a formal diagnosis of mesothelioma. It meant a great deal to be finally told what was wrong with me but at the same time I knew how grave the consequences were.

“From that point on I was determined to claim compensation to ensure that my wife and children are looked after in the future.”

Paul McCarthy from the GMB said: “Our member had previous experience of an asbestos related condition and knew how important it was to have the diagnosis clarified at the earliest possible stage. By providing him with legal support we were able to help him get a clear diagnosis leading to the correct treatment and compensation being sorted out quickly.

Gill Owen from Thompsons Solicitors added: “It was vitally important for this client to know that his family would be financially secure and a great relief that his claim has been settled within his lifetime. He benefited from contacting his union straight away for advice as soon as the suspicion of mesothelioma was raised by the medical profession.”