With just weeks to go before the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) begins in July, comes a news report on one of the many mesothelioma victims who will tragically miss out on making a mesothelioma claim because diagnosis was confirmed before the cut-off point of 25th July 2012.

In this instance, the victim was a 73 year old former employee at a car part manufacturer of asbestos brake linings, who was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer on the 16th July 2012 – just 15 days short of being eligible to apply for the new scheme.

Employer’s insurer unable to be traced

As can often be the case, the former employer’s insurer was unable to be traced and the victim’s spouse, aged 69, was hoping that the new scheme would be the “fund of last resort”, as the DMPS has been often dubbed. Her husband’s workplace may be seen as typical of so many men in their early twenties who began working in asbestos-using industries during the 1960s and 1970s.

Widespread use of asbestos fibres as an inexpensive insulator meant thousands of industrial and commercial products were manufactured right up until the first asbestos ban was introduced in the mid 1980s.The automobile industry used asbestos in a variety of key components, such as brake pads, clutch linings and gaskets.

Unfortunately, the link between asbestos exposure and potential fatal health damage was often ignored in many industries. The lack of asbestos awareness or available information meant that little or no protective clothing or equipment, such as specialist breathing masks, were provided for the workforce. According to the former car worker’s spouse, her husband – who passed away in 2013 – worked in a “snow storm of toxic dust.”

The ability to provide the right care and support to mesothelioma victims in the remaining period of their life and to secure financial stability for the spouse following the passing of the victim is crucial. Life expectancy following a confirmed diagnosis is on average between 4 and 12 months, and a victim will often pass away before a claim can be finally resolved, which in some instances, could be up to five or six years or more.

Many victims will be excluded

When details of the payment scheme were passed on its third parliamentary reading in early January, dissatisfaction and concern over the terms of the Mesothlioma Bill agreed with the insurance industry was voiced by MPs, dedicated asbestosis lawyers and asbestos support groups, alike.

There is no question that the introduction of DMPS is a significant step forwards in providing financial help from a so-called “fund of last resort” to around 3,500 mesothelioma sufferers who every year are unable to trace their original employer or insurer. However, there is no doubt either that there will be many victims will be excluded as a result of the ‘late’ cut off date. The scheme already excludes those victims diagnosed with all other asbestosis diseases.

The “inflexibility” of the scheme will no doubt be highlighted in the run up to launch date and for months following too as more cases of rejected mesothelioma applicants are reported, which leaves spouses or other close family members devastated from their exclusion to payment entitlement.