Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero has written to the Health Secretary asking for him to introduce a policy whereby ex-miners can request a CT scan to help diagnose cases of black lung disease more quickly.
Gloria recently met with Alan Spencer, the general secretary of the Nottingham area of the National Union of Mineworkers, who raised concerns that many members have about the current screening procedure for pneumoconiosis.
While working at the pits, miners were x-rayed regularly to check for signs of coal dust retention.
But now there is no such screening programme and there are doubts over the accuracy of x-rays compared to more detailed CT scans.
Gloria has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asking that he considers making it policy that any ex-miner who goes to his GP with chest problems or breathing difficulties, can request to be sent for a CT scan, rather than a standard chest x-ray.
Gloria and the NUM believe that this will lead to earlier diagnosis of pneumoconiosis meaning appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes can be made earlier, minimising the effects of the disease.
Gloria said: “It is important that former mineworkers are able to request a CT scan to help diagnose any chest problems that may be missed by a conventional x-ray so that they can get the treatment they need as early as possible.
“The NUM has growing evidence that patients sent for x-rays end up having a CT scan anyway when the x-rays prove inconclusive, so it would make economic sense and save valuable time for a CT scan to be offered in the first instance, when concerns about chest problems first come to light.”
Compensation is available to workers who develop dust-related conditions such as pneumoconiosis, or their dependents, where the disease was the result of exposure to dust in the course of their employment, but they are unable to claim damages from their employers because the employers have ceased business.
In 2016/17, 2,910 sufferers received compensation totalling £38.61m under the Pneumoconiosis (Worker’s Compensation) Act 1979.
Three hundred and twenty dependents also received compensation payments totalling £3.3m.