Father’s asbestos death was ‘out of the blue’

A FAMILY say they were left shocked after their father died ‘out of the blue’, an inquest heard.

John Saunders, of High Street, Portishead, was admitted to Southmead Hospital on February 11 last year to treat a suspected chest infection, Flax Bourton Coroners Court was told last week.

But after various scans and tests it was revealed the 89-year-old had ‘extensive’ lung cancer – as a result of asbestos exposure when he worked at Portishead Power Plant.

On the same day the retired groundsman was admitted to hospital, he died four hours after a routine procedure which involved inserting a tube down his throat to collect cell samples.

Dr John Harvey said: “This procedure is very safe and is easy to do on everyone including elderly people.

“We discussed this with the family and they were happy we do it as it’s a routine procedure.

“It went very well and there were no problems.”

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Dr Christopher Collins, who carried out the postmortem, said Mr Saunders had a ‘high volume’ of blood in his airways, but it was ruled out that the hospital procedure could have caused this.

Mr Saunders’ daughter, Janet Tucker, said: “We didn’t know he had cancer and his death came out of the blue.

“He was a stoker in the navy and worked as a brickyard man at Portishead Power Station.

“We know he was involved in an accident when the boiler blew up and that he would have been exposed to asbestos for some years.

“No one had mentioned asbestos before. We thought he had emphysema.”

Assistant deputy coroner, Gail Elliman, said it was ‘more likely than not’ the asbestos, which he was exposed to for about 20 years, caused the cancer which resulted in the bleed so a verdict of industrial disease was recorded.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Tucker, said: “We are satisfied with the findings and I doubt we will be looking at pursuing any claims.

“Mum would rather have dad back than any money.”

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