Family call for answers after Coventry nurse died from asbestos-related cancer aged just 64

Jane Preston
Jane Preston -Credit:Leigh Day Solicitors

A grieving family are searching for answers after a Coventry NHS worker died from an asbestos-related cancer at the age of just 64. Jane Preston died from the incurable disease after spending years working at Walsgrave Hospital.

Jane worked for the NHS as a 'Records Clerk' at Westhill Hospital in Dartford during the 1970s and 1980s. She then started working as a 'Nurse' at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, which has since been demolished, at the end of the 1990s into the early 2000s.

She regularly came into contact with pipework coated in decayed lagging which contained asbestos, according to Leigh Day Solicitors. In November 2022, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, and died just three months later in February 2023.

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Husband Andrew Preston is now pursuing a civil claim as per her wishes while working alongside Asbestos Action. Lawyers will investigate how Jane was exposed to the lethal substance which caused her cancer and premature death at just 64.

During her time at Westhill Hospital in 1975 and between 1979 and 1981, Jane was regularly required to go down to the basement where archives were kept, according to Leigh Day Solicitors. It involved reaching to get files that were stored close to a boiler with decayed lagging on its pipes, covering the files in dust which Jane then had to sweep up after fetching the documents, it has been claimed.

From 1999 to 2001, Jane worked at Walsgrave Hospital. Her time in this role saw her make use of underground service tunnels which had decayed lagging on pipework stretching the entire length of the tunnels, often being disturbed by maintenance workers, according to Leigh Day Solicitors.

Jane worked at Walsgrave Hospital in the 1990s and 2000s
Jane worked at Walsgrave Hospital in the 1990s and 2000s -Credit:Leigh Day Solicitors

Both have been demolished in the years since, with Westhill Hospital being knocked down in 2000 and Walsgrave Hospital in 2007. With the buildings now gone, Andrew is appealing to former NHS colleagues to help build a picture of her daily working conditions and find out how she came into contact with asbestos, according to Leigh Day Solicitors.

Mr Preston said: “We were devastated to lose Jane aged just 64 and sickened by the knowledge that her work in the NHS brought her into contact with the asbestos that led to her death so prematurely. It is my hope that this claim will help to highlight the national scandal of asbestos exposure increasingly affecting NHS workers past and present.”

Jane and Andrew Preston
Jane and Andrew Preston -Credit:Leigh Day Solicitors

He added: “If anyone remembers Jane, or if they too worked at Westhill or Walsgrave Hospitals around the same time as she was there in the mid to late 70s and late 90s, I would be very grateful if you would get in touch to share your recollections.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care told CoventryLive: “Our deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of Jane. We take the safety of NHS staff extremely seriously and expect NHS Trusts to have robust plans in place to comply with their legal duty to manage asbestos.

“Asbestos is considered safe if it is undisturbed. When work is carried out which would disturb asbestos, trusts must bring in experts to safely dispose of it.

NHS England continues to work with NHS Trusts to ensure their estates are a safe environment for patients and staff, supported by £4.2 billion capital funding last year and a further £4.2 billion this year.”

A spokesman for the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: “We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Jane. Stringent controls were in place to manage asbestos at the old Walsgrave Hospital, which closed in 2006. As a legal claim is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.”

Anyone with information has been asked to contact Kevin Johnson of Leigh Day Solicitors on 0151 305 2760 or

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