24 Oct 2015

Hospital staff want asbestos answers

4:21 pm on 24 October 2015

A medical union says staff at Dunedin Hospital are anxious about the asbestos contamination that has shut down parts of the building.

White asbestos, a carcinogen, was found on four floors of the hospital's clinical services building, including in the mortuary, the radiology department, and the main stairwell.

Asbestos at Dunedin Hospital

Asbestos at Dunedin Hospital Photo: SUPPLIED / SDHB

A spokesperson for the Junior Doctors and Laboratory Workers unions, Dr Deborah Powell, said staff were anxious because of the many unknowns.

"It's the not knowing that is the most difficult thing to manage. So at the moment we don't know where this asbestos has come from - so we don't know how it got there and we don't know how long it has been there.

"So those are three factors that are causing a little anxiety at the moment."

Dr Powell said staff wanted a monitoring plan put in place to measure and treat any ill health from the exposure, as it could take between 10 and 15 years for asbestos to affect the body.

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