Cancer-stricken former Sheffield nurse seeking answers over asbestos link at Doncaster Royal Infirmary

A Sheffield nurse battling terminal cancer believed to be linked to asbestos has spoken of her race against time to secure answers as to how she contracted the disease which looks set to claim her life.

By Lee Peace
Monday, 01 July, 2019, 17:00

Grandmother-of-four Jean White wants to find out precisely how she came into contact with asbestos believed to be responsible for her mesothelioma.

Jean is on the right.

She has instructed lawyers at the Irwin Mitchell law firm to investigate whether she was exposed to the hazardous material while working at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in the 1960s.

The 73-year-old Gleadless woman is appealing to former colleagues at the hospital for information to help provide the answers they need ‘before it’s too late’.

She said: “I have so many questions about how I could have been exposed to asbestos and I believe I deserve answers, not just for me but for my family.

Jean Wight.

“It can’t change what has happened to me, but hopefully by having my former colleagues come forward, it will enable both me and my family to better understand how this happened.”

Known as Jean Wright when she worked at the hospital, she undertook a three-year nursing course at Doncaster Royal Infirmary from 1966 and lived in the nurses’ accommodation on site.

At the time the Thorne Road site was being redeveloped; old buildings and temporary huts erected during the Second World War were demolished making way for the current main building.

Irwin Mitchell said Jean developed symptoms including pain and breathlessness in April 2016.

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Jean is on the left.

Following a series of tests it was confirmed that she had developed mesothelioma – a form of cancer which affects the lining of the lung and is linked to contact with asbestos.

Recalling her time working at the hospital, Jean said: “I distinctly remember that five huts were part of the old site, with several of them being used as surgical wards.

“The site in general was very dusty and I remember having to use my nurse’s cape as a shield from it all.”

Simon Webb, who is representing Jean, said: “While contact with asbestos is often linked to industrial environments, this is one of a growing number of cases that we are involved in that are related to work in public buildings including schools and hospitals.

Jean Wight.

“Jean is understandably devastated by her diagnosis. While medical staff cannot do anything for Jean with regards to curing her cancer, we at least hope we can provide Jean and her family with the vital answers as to the circumstances of her exposure before it is too late.”

Anyone with information which may assist with the case is asked to contact Simon Webb on 0114 274 4420 or email simon.webb@irwinmitchell.com

In a statement, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals said: “We offer our sympathy to Mrs White. Asbestos was a commonly used material within construction for many years in many different areas and a wide range of public and private buildings. As a result, we would ask Mrs White to contact the Trust with any relevant details.”