Families of former miners in our region say they fear that the Covid-19 pandemic could rob them of future payout claims for industrial disease.

More than 20 MPs representing former pit towns and villages have urged Health Secretary Matt Hancock to step in.

They want him to reassure ex-miners who are in poor health that their medical history will not be ignored if they die during the coronavirus crisis.

Dave and Aileen Buttle are mourning the loss of Dave's father Len, a former miner. Credit: ITV News

Dave Buttle from South Emsall lost his father Len last month.

Like many retired miners, Len's lungs were damaged by years of breathing in coal dust underground. He had pneumoconiosis.

Dave says his father tested negative for coronavirus before he died in hospital last month.

However, on his death certificate, doctors listed one "probable" cause of death was Covid-19.

Dave disputed this but was told this is the case for everyone who dies while in hospital. Dave says Len was only in hospital for nine hours.

That relaxation in the rules governing the completion of death certificates during the pandemic has led The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents more than 30,000 ex-miners in Yorkshire alone, to start a campaign.

Len's death certificate lists Covid-19 as a probable cause of death Credit: ITV News

"We want them to include the person's occupation and their medical history so they can put on the death certificate any underlying industrial health diseases they've suffered from. And that's important because if a former miner sadly passes away from Covid-19 but has suffered from industrial disease because of their time down the pit their family is entitled to the compensation and the justice they would be normally."

Stephanie Peacock MP, Labour, Barnsley East

The Department of Health and Social Care said it understands the concerns of former coal miners and their families. It adds that a doctor is legally obliged to notify a coroner if death is due to disease attributed to a person's job.

Former Yorkshire NUM official John 'Inky' Thomson has the lung disease COPD. He says he's instructed his family to request a post mortem when he dies to confirm whether industrial disease was the cause.

"My quality of life is no-where near what it would be like if I wasn't suffering that. And remember a lot of people are suffering more than me. They're bedridden.....They need care ...and that is often provided by the person who finishes up the widow"

John 'Inky' Thomson
Credit: ITV News

‘’We understand the concerns of former coal miners, and their families due to this pandemic. This is a difficult time for the whole country.

Spokesperson, Department of Health and Social Care