LETTER: UDM and two MPs have fought for ex-mineworkers scans

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In response to the letter from Alan Spencer, General Secretary of the NUM, which you published last week - Read the letter here - I would like to take the opportunity to correct Mr Spencer on his version of the work he states that his union, along with Alan Meale, have alone done regarding campaigning for former mineworkers with pneumoconiosis being sent for a CT scan.

It was in fact the UDM which first raised the issue of all former mineworkers being screened for the lung disease known as pneumoconiosis, there would be little point in giving a former miner with pneumoconiosis a CT scan (as Mr Spencer states in his letter), if the miner has already been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis.

The UDM originally raised the issue of screening former mineworkers via a CT scan with Mark Spencer whose constituency included Thoresby Colliery. The UDM wrote to him in July 2015 asking for his assistance in persuading government to screen all former mineworkers via a CT scan, once Thoresby Colliery had closed. The UDM also provided evidence of former mineworkers who had presented themselves at their own GP’s surgery with other chest related problems and subsequently were sent for a CT scan, (which is basically a 3D image of the lungs).

These scans also indicated that these men had pneumoconiosis, which they were previously unaware of as the last chest X-ray that was taken whilst they were still working in the industry showed they were satisfactory, which was mainly the case.

The UDM took it itself to conduct five test cases with men who had just been made redundant from Thoresby colliery, all five of these men had been deemed satisfactory in their final X- ray at Thoresby in 2013. 
The five test CT scans were conducted at BMI the Park Hospital, the results showed that two men had pneumoconiosis, one man had bronchitis with a hiatus hernia of the lower oesophagus and one other diagnosed with dense lymph nodes around the para tracheal area related to industrial exposure.

The UDM’s campaign was picked up by the BBC reporter, Mike O Sullivan in January 2016. He interviewed me, Jeff Wood, president of the UDM, Ian Gill, UDM social insurance officer along with two ex-Thoresby mineworkers who found out via the CT scans carried out by the UDM that they did indeed have pneumoconiosis.

The UDM wrote to Alan Meale on November 10 2015 asking him for his assistance with the UDM’s campaign to persuade the government to offer CT scans for all former mineworkers. Mr Meale did indeed take up the cudgel and promptly weighed in to the government on behalf of all former mineworkers but it was Alan Meale who then persuaded the NUM to join in the UDM’s campaign for CT scans and it is the NUM general secretary who we feel is now trying to claim the credit for work they have not done.

It is also wrong to suggest that only Alan Meale is campaigning on this issue, this is clearly not the case as Mark Spencer has campaigned just as vigorously, which is what you would expect from two coalfield area MPs.

Mark Spencer recently arranged a meeting with the Health Minister, David Mowatt and the UDM on the issue of CT scans to be made available for all former mineworkers as this process would clearly identify any trace of pneumoconiosis, a further meeting has been arranged once the General Election has taken place and the UDM will keep former mineworkers posted on future developments.

Jeff Wood

President, Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM)