LETTER: Plans to help miners with lung problems

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I am writing this letter in addition to the article in the Chad recently on the benefit of CT scans for ex-miners.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) earlier this year set up a sub-committee of delegates from across the area and along with our MP, Sir Alan Meale, have met with other mining MPs and health ministers to discuss the benefits of CT scans as opposed to x-rays.

The clinical director of the NHS agreed with us that coal miners, many of whom suffer with chest problems, would benefit from the results of a CT scan in picking up both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumoconiosis.

Sir Alan Meale has worked tirelessly on our behalf in highlighting these issues and has set up, along with the NUM, a national conference in September to discuss and progress this important issue that affects nearly everyone who has worked underground in our coal mines.

I have experienced first hand, in my role as general secretary of the NUM in this area, the plight of the relatives of miners who have passed away with this terrible disease.

Many of their husbands or fathers have previously applied for compensation for either COPD or pneumoconiosis, or both, and have been turned down.

Following their demise, the post mortem results have stated the death was down to industrial disease, pneumoconiosis or COPD.

Although there could now be a small award for the surviving relative, this did not help the mineworker suffering from these crippling diseases.

Sir Alan, along with myself and other MPs and county and district councillors, are also looking into the possibility of setting up a ‘breathing space unit’ that would solely deal with anyone with breathing problems, managed by a dedicated team of nurses expertly trained in breathing problems caused by both pneumoconiosis and COPD.

There is already one set up and running with a great success rate in reducing the suffering of anyone with these incurable diseases in Rotherham.

We are determined to get one here in Nottinghamshire.

Alan Spencer

General secretary,

National Union

of Mineworkers