Asbestos health check being offered on NHS for Grenfell survivors

Last Updated on 18th September 2019 by Kirsty Smithson

NHS to offer £50m asbestos health check screening programme in wake of disaster

Following concerns over potential asbestos poisoning, Grenfell tower survivors are being offered an asbestos health check screening by the NHS.

The decision has been reached after the NHS were urged by senior coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, to take action to prevent any more deaths.

The NHS will reportedly invest £50m into the asbestos health check screening service.

This comes after Dr Wilcox wrote to Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, in September 2018 to voice her concerns.

She was worried that no health programme had been put in place for the survivors and first responders of the Grenfell tower disaster.

Dr Wilcox pointed out that survivors, firefighters and other first responders from the 9/11 terrorist attack are still suffering with health problems as a result of asbestos exposure.

As Grenfell Tower was built in 1974, it is more than likely it contained asbestos, which was used extensively at that time because of it’s heat insulation and fire retardant properties.

Inhalation of poisonous smoke was cited as the main cause of death for the 72 people who died on the 14th June 2017 in the Grenfell fire.

Grenfell Tower fire - survivors being offered asbestos health check screening by NHS

Head of NHS speaks about new health screening

Mr Stevens announced the new asbestos health check screening programme and said that both the NHS and local health groups are set to invest up to £10m a year into the programme over the course of the next five years.

He said that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire would be invited for regular health checks to monitor both their physical and psychological health.

There has already been a a mental health service programme put in place for Grenfell survivors that has screened approximately 4,000 residents to date.

Additionally, the NHS have provided former residents with longer GP appointments.

Mr Stevens spoke at the NHS Providers conference in Manchester last Tuesday and said, “Since (the Grenfell Tower fire), the NHS has been one of the public services that has most fulfilled the contract between those working in public services and communities reliant on us in their time of need.”

“We’ve knocked on more than 4,000 doors, helped 3,800 residents (with) their GP and mental health needs and more than a third of those have gone on to be referred to specialist mental health services.”

“Which is why it’s important that when a local community, such as those in North Kensington says ‘you need to raise your game over how the community is supported’, we respond.”

“For those people who were affected by this horrendous tragedy, their pain is not over and many continue to face real difficulty.”

“NHS staff and the local community have been working hard from day one to support the Grenfell community. The NHS was there when people needed us and we’re determined to stay the course. That’s why we are now introducing a new dedicated service to ensure those affected continue to have their health needs fully met.”

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Published Oct 23, 2018

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