Mesothelioma – the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme
In March 2007 the Secretary of State announced his intention to extend the coverage for compensation to sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma who had been exposed to asbestos in the UK but were unable to claim compensation from other sources, for example, women who had washed their husband's clothes, or the self-employed. The Secretary of State announced that payments would be made within six weeks of application.
The start date for the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme is 1 October 2008.
Diffuse Mesothelioma cancer is linked to asbestos exposure, but asbestos is not the only cause of Diffuse Mesothelioma. Before the widespread use of asbestos in the 20th century it was a rare tumour, but not unheard of, and there are references to it throughout 19th century literature.
It is estimated that 1-2% of all cases of Diffuse Mesothelioma are not due to asbestos exposure.
Diffuse Mesothelioma not due to asbestos exposure does occur, for example Zeolite (erionite) is a non-asbestos mineral fibre that has been identified as the probable cause of an epidemic of malignant Diffuse Mesothelioma in Karain, a small village in Turkey where no asbestos was found in the village.
There are other forms of mesothelioma which are not linked to asbestos exposure, for example Cystic mesothelioma, which is a rare peritoneal tumour which usually occurs in women of child- bearing age, but can also occur in men, eg cystic testicular mesothelioma.
Most of those who develop Diffuse Mesothelioma have worked in jobs or been in environments where they have been exposed to asbestos dust particles in the air. Where the illness is as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos and the person has been an employed earner he/she can claim under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) Scheme and potentially the 1979 Workers' Compensation Scheme. However there are a number of cases of Diffuse Mesothelioma each year who have no occupational causation, who therefore cannot claim under the IIDB Scheme and the 1979 Scheme. The 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme seeks to compensate this group of people.
The qualifying criteria
The qualifying criteria for the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme are:
- there must be evidence to show that the person suffers from Diffuse Mesothelioma
- the claimant must have been exposed to asbestos in the UK
- the claim must have been made within one year of diagnosis or, in the case of a claim being made by a dependent, dependants can claim within a year of the date of death.
For the first 12 months of the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme the "claim within one year of diagnosis" requirement will not apply to sufferers diagnosed before the introduction of the Scheme to ensure they have the opportunity to apply.
Making a claim
Claimants must provide evidence that they suffer from Diffuse Mesothelioma. If the claimant does not provide any evidence at all then the claim will fail.
- A person who has been employed may be eligible under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) Scheme.
- If they receive IIDB they can also claim under the 1979 Compensation Scheme.
- If your patient cannot be paid under the 1979 Scheme (whether or not they are eligible for IIDB) they may be eligible for a lump sum payment under the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme.
The doctor's role in the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme
If your patient is diagnosed with Diffuse Mesothelioma:
- encourage them to claim the appropriate benefit as soon as possible
- provide documentary confirmation of the diagnosis of Diffuse Mesothelioma.
The claim will fail if the medical evidence does not clearly say that the claimant has Diffuse Mesothelioma.
In a tiny number of cases a Health Care Professional from Atos Healthcare, who provide medical advice to the Department, may contact you requesting information about or clarification of the evidence submitted by the claimant. This contact may be by way of a phone call.
You will be asked to provide Atos Healthcare with documentary evidence where possible, and in most cases due to the urgency of making a decision on entitlement, you will be requested to supply the information by fax if possible. Suitable supplementary documentary evidence might include copies of hospital letters, X-ray reports, scans or biopsy results.
If documentary evidence is not available, but the diagnosis of Diffuse Mesothelioma has been made, verbal confirmation of the diagnosis is acceptable.