A Belfast man dying from asbestosis is to sue Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for what he claims was a “wrongful diagnosis” after going though what he described as seven “tough years”.
Arthur Rafferty (69) who worked for shipping magnates George Heyn & Sons for 25 years, was first diagnosed with the killer disease in June 2002 at the Mater Hospital.
Since then he has sought compensation from his former employers.
However in 2007 the Mater came back to Mr Rafferty. He said that they told him he did not have asbestosis, but would have it in the future. He was then told by Judge Patrick Coughlin that the case against George Heyn & Sons would be put on hold until he had confirmation of the disease.
But this year he went to visit a specialist in Liverpool who confirmed Mr Rafferty was suffering from asbestosis. He now says he wants justice for his ordeal.
Mr Rafferty said: “I worked as a docker for 25 years. My chest is away, every morning I am bringing up phlegm and sometimes blood. I used to be a professional boxer and never drank or smoked but now I can’t even walk too far. “When I first went to the Mater Hospital they told me I had asbestosis and there was nothing they could do for me — I was going to die. I went every six months for all those years for treatment and then in 2007 they told me I didn’t have it.”
Mr Rafferty said he then fought with the trust for two years to get to see a specialist in Liverpool. The specialist concluded that he did have asbestosis. He has now launched a case against the trust for “wrongful diagnosis”.
He added: “I’m really annoyed about how I have been treated (by the trust). I have been fighting this for years, I want to know why they got the results wrong.”
Mr Rafferty has established a committee, Justice for Dockers — of which he is chairman — to fight for those suffering from asbestos-related diseases.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, who has been working with Mr Rafferty for years in his fight for justice, said: “I fully support Arthur and his quest for justice and compensation.
“I have raised his case in the House Of Commons and other forums and I will continue to give my support where necessary.”
A spokeswoman for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said they could not comment due to a pending legal case.
A spokesman for George Heyn & Sons said: “We can't comment on individual cases, however we do sympathise with anyone who is suffering from asbestosis.
“We now recognise the dangers of working with asbestos and thankfully workers at Heyn do not have to work in that environment.”