Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They Are Waiting for Us to Die, Say Miners

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They Are Waiting for Us to Die, Say Miners

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes Political Editor

Miners claiming ill-health compensation fear the Government is waiting for them to die, solicitors representing them said yesterday.

Solicitors' groups from across the country attacked delays in paying out compensation to men affected by vibration white finger, saying too many claims were being delayed because of irrelevant investigation.

In many cases there was a perception the Government was "simply waiting for me to die", the solicitors said.

In another case, the company handling claims on behalf of the Government demanded details of a miner's ability to keep and clean out tropical fish. The challenge was later dismissed as unnecessary.

Roger Maddocks, a partner in Newcastle solicitor's firm Irwin Mitchell and a spokesman for the Claimants' Solicitors Group, told MPs on the Trade and Industry committee there was a desperate need radically to streamline the claims process. And he warned that for many families "the impression you are left with is that there is a lot of activity, a lot of queries where the relevance of the query is at best marginal.

"Things have improved, but there's scope for significant further improvement," he said.

Fellow CSG lawyer Peter Evans, of Hugh James Solicitors, sparked concern about the treatment of sick miners and their families when he said: "We have all had experience of people saying: `They are simply waiting for me to die'.

"They are wrong, because it costs the Department [of Trade and Industry] more if that happens, but it doesn't prevent the perception being there in communities."

Delays were such that even dependants of miners trying to claim compensation were now dying.

Capita, the firm that runs the Government's Criminal Records Bureau, has come under fire for the way it handles miners' compensation claims.

Ministers have been urged to dump the private firm. The Government is about to fast-track miners' claims for respiratory diseases and has a procedure for "stalled" vibration white finger claims, but the solicitors said there were major concerns over staffing and training at Capita. …

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