Unions NSW is calling on State Health Minister Jillian Skinner to respond urgently to new revelations about the presence of deadly asbestos in NSW hospitals.


Unions NSW wrote to the Minister several weeks ago seeking an urgent meeting about the issue. Last night, the ABC ran a disturbing report about the extent of the problem at Westmead and other NSW hospitals, including testimony from a former speech therapist who contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said asbestos in hospitals was an issue that demanded a response from the top.

“Asbestos in our hospitals a problem of the gravest nature and it demands an urgent response from the Minister,” Mr Lennon said.

“It’s now confirmed that people can catch deadly mesothelioma from asbestos in NSW hospitals, and they will continue to contract this horrible diseases if urgent action isn’t taken. Patients and hospital workers are at risk every day.

“Pretending there isn’t a problem is no longer an option. Yes, there will be a significant cost involved in ridding NSW hospitals of friable asbestos. But there is a far more significant cost in doing nothing.

“Health authorities tell us there is no safe level of level of exposure to asbestos. So any trace of dusty, breathable fibres in our hospitals is completely unacceptable.

“NSW hospitals are a place for people to get well, not a place for them to catch deadly mesothelioma.

“I urge Ms Skinner to move swiftly on our calls for a meeting and for action to proceed from there. This is not a problem that can simply be palmed off. It demands action from the top and it demands that action now.”

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