Thompsons Solicitors are supporting a campaign calling on the Government to step in and remedy a House of Lords ruling which ended the decades old right to claim compensation for pleural plaques.

Pleural plaques are scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos. Although rarely causing symptoms they are associated with an increased risk of developing fatal conditions like mesothelioma.

Thousands of people in the UK have the condition. Most were exposed to asbestos in the workplace at a time when employers were fully aware of the harmful effects and did nothing to protect workers.

Many people with pleural plaques tell of the worry and uncertainty it causes knowing that one day they may develop asbestos cancer.

In Britain almost 2,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma

Across Britain almost 2,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the fatal asbestos related cancer.

Thousands of workers across the UK have been on tenterhooks since the House of Lords ended the right to compensation for pleural plaques in 2007 as a result of a test case brought by the insurance industry.

Before then average awards of between £5,000 to £15,000 were made for pleural plaques with the first successful cases being decided in 1984.

Following pressure from the unions last year the Government held a consultation looking at a number of different options to bring redress to people diagnosed with pleural plaques. The results of that consultation were expected to be revealed before Christmas.

We are supporting the unions’ call for the government to reinstate compensation for people with pleural plaques without further delay and to make an announcement this month.

Exposed to asbestos as a boilermaker

Richard Robson, 79, from East Thorp in Newbiggin Hall was exposed to asbestos as a boilermaker for Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend.

He was diagnosed with pleural plaques after an x-ray at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and suffers from breathlessness and throat problems.

He said: “I am worried that I will go on to develop something like asbestosis in the future. If I had a choice I would much rather have my health. But since that choice has been taken from me then I think it is only right that I should be compensated."

Exposed to asbestos working for British Rail

David Richardson, 60, from Englefield Close, Newcastle was exposed to asbestos while working for British Rail at depots in Hexham, Newcastle and Wylam.

He said: “When I was told I had pleural plaques I was devastated. I did not know what they were but the very mention of asbestos was enough to worry me.

“Other than my parents dying this was the most traumatic experience I have ever had. I always thought it was pipe laggers and shipyard workers who developed these diseases.

“I realise this is not as serious as full blown asbestosis but I have an increased risk of getting other asbestos diseases. As a result I have stopped working away from home so I can spend more time with my family.”

Exposed to asbestos as a joiner on Walker Naval Yard

David Reid, 61, from Fowberry Crescent, Fenham was exposed to asbestos while working for Walker Naval Yard as a joiner. He had to cut sheets of asbestos as part of his work. He also worked alongside asbestos laggers.

He worked at the yard from 1962 until 1994. He was diagnosed with pleural plaques in 2005 after he went to the doctor complaining of chest problems.

He said: “It was a massive shock to be diagnosed with pleural plaques. An ex colleague of mine from the yard died of asbestos cancer and I watched him fade away from being a fit and active man. I know I have a risk of the same thing happening to me and I can’t help but think of my friend.”

Exposed to asbestos as a draughtsman on a shipyard

Ian McDonald, 68, from Anderson Street in South Shields was exposed to asbestos while working as a draughtsman at Middle Docks shipyard on South Tyneside.

He was diagnosed with pleural plaques in 2005. He said: “I was shocked that I had pleural plaques. My wife and I have been worried I will end up suffering a terrible asbestos disease.”

Exposed to asbestos working at Swan Hunter shipyard

Victor Isaac from Lyndhurst Street, South Shields was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice joiner for Swan Hunter shipyard at Wallsend.

The 65-year-old now fears for his health. He said: “I know that I could go on to develop something like mesothelioma and that terrifies me.”

Thompsons Solicitors specialise in asbestos compensation claims

Thompsons Solicitors who specialise in asbestos compensation claims, act for many of the thousands of workers with pleural plaques.

Ian McFall, Thompsons' head of asbestos policy said: “Thousands of people have been affected by pleural plaques. They are worried about their health and concerned about the future.

“These are ordinary working men and women who were negligently exposed to asbestos and have suffered harm. Their concerns deserve to be recognised. We fully support their fight for the right to compensation to be restored.”