This week, the Office of National Statistics issued the latest figures for those who have passed away in the last year from Mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. It was sad, but alas not surprising, to see an increase in the number of deaths. I say unsurprising because it is a latent disease that only presents itself decades after exposure and I am afraid therefore we will continue to see an increase for a few more years to come yet. Medway, given its dockyard and heavy industrial past, has the highest number of deaths in the county and remains one of the UK's mesothelioma hotspots.
It was for this reason that I helped secure 100% compensation for victims of this dreadful disease who are unable to trace their former employer's insurer upon diagnosis. It was a long hard fought battle but the previous Government announced full compensation earlier this year.
Sadly financial compensation and security for loved ones is only one aspect of coping with this horrible disease and the fight to provide treatment or even a cure for mesothelioma continues. I found it particularly distressing to read recently in an article about Assisted Dying that the gentleman who was the subject of debate had gone to Dignitas because he was suffering from mesothelioma. If only we could find something to alleviate his suffering or even cure it. Work continues on this including excellent research projects at the Medway campus of the University of Greenwich which I will continue to support.
In the meantime, I hope that the 108 people who passed away in Kent during 2014 from mesothelioma, a cancer contracted simply for turning up at work, may you rest in peace.