Man died after ‘asbestos exposure’ at old Leeds asylum

The former High Royds Hospital at Menston.
The former High Royds Hospital at Menston.
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A schizophrenic man died from mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos during a 27-year stay at High Royds Hospital in Leeds, his family claims.

John Gogan, from Meanwood, passed away from the form of lung cancer in July, having spent almost three decades as a patient at High Royds.

His family, including his sister Betty Hutchinson, are now planning to file a claim to Leeds and York Partership NHS Foundation Trust in a bid to seek justice over his death.

John Gogan, who was 61 when he died, was diagnosed with schizophrenia aged 19 and sectioned under the Mental Health Act two years later, staying at High Royds in Menston from 1971 until 1996.

He left after the planned closure of the hospital was announced and moved to Burley House Nursing Home, where he lived until three weeks before his death on July 6.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February and passed away at Ghyll Royd Nursing Home in Guiseley.

Mrs Hutchinson said: “I thought mesothelioma was an illness only plumbers and workmen were likely to get, not someone who had spent his life in a psychiatric hospital.

“From what I’d read, it seemed to take a very long time to develop mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos.

“We started looking at the dates and it looked like the only time he could possibly have been exposed was when he was a patient at High Royds.”

Mrs Hutchinson is being represented by Lesley Mynett, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Fentons Solicitors.

The firm is now looking to speak to people who might have worked at or visited the hospital between 1969 and 1996.

Miss Mynett said: “Mr Gogan was at High Royds for 27 years and he was regularly assigned ‘work’ within the grounds.

“Unfortunately we don’t know what that work entailed or where it was carried out, and we need people to come forward to help us shed some light.

“Mr Gogan was kept in a state institution for his own safety and wellbeing, but we believe that he was exposed to the asbestos that led to his premature and painful death.”

High Royds Hospital opened in 1888 as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum and closed in 2003. The site has since been developed into houses and flats and re-named Chevin Park.

A spokeswoman for Leeds and York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust has not yet been contacted regarding this claim. Upon receiving a claim, we will endeavour to help in any way we can.

“From 1997, High Royds had asbestos surveys undertaken and asbestos removal was actioned by the Regional Health Authority who owned the site. “Asbestos is and was prevalent in many old buildings, usually asbestos is in pipes and as lagging in ducts, this was the case at High Royds. Patients would not have needed access to these service areas.

“The trust received a claim in 2005. The claim was reported to the NHS Litigation Authority, however, was not pursued by the claimant’s solicitors.”

Anyone who might be able to help with the case should call Lesley Mynett on 0844 854 3095.

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