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The Labour Party gives a manifesto commitment to nuclear test veterans and mesh implant campaigners




Nuclear test veterans and women's health campaigners have been given reasons for optimism by the Labour Party.

Pledges to stop the use of surgical mesh implants for women and give a £50,000 lump sum payout to around 1,500 survivors of the UK's nuclear test programme during the 1950s were made at the party's conference in Brighton earlier this week.

The move to support nuclear tests veterans, announced by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry on Monday, came in the same week as the charity representing them, the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA), held its annual general meeting in Weston-Super-Mare.

The Labour Party's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry.
The Labour Party's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry.

Moulton nuclear test veteran Doug Hern, whose wife Sandie is the BNTVA's vice chairman, said: "It was a complete shock to us and we didn't know anything about it.

"Ever since the Second World War ended, political parties have always announced plans to help nuclear test veterans, but not one of them has ever done that.

"This is the first time a party has put it in their manifesto and, at the very least, I hope it will apply pressure to the other parties to do the same."

Pete and Steph Williams who have become strong supporters of Sling the Mesh, a campaign to ban surgical mesh implants from use in the NHS.Photo: SG281017-159TW
Pete and Steph Williams who have become strong supporters of Sling the Mesh, a campaign to ban surgical mesh implants from use in the NHS.Photo: SG281017-159TW

Ms Thornberry said: "There is a group of military veterans to whom we owe a huge debt, the men who from the 1950s onwards were exposed to terrible levels of radiation when overseeing Britain’s nuclear tests and who have not just seen their own health damaged as a result but, most painfully, their children and grandchildren too.

"The next Labour government will give a £50,000 lump sum payment to every surviving test veteran to help them and their families cope with their medical problems and give them the security and comfort they deserve in their old age."

Meanwhile, the party's commitment to turn the current halt in mesh implant procedures across the NHS into a complete ban was welcomed by Spalding pub landlord Pete Williams whose wife Steph underwent an operation to have hers removed last summer.

Doug Hern, journalist Susie Boniface, Sandie Hern, nuclear test veteran's widow Shirley Denson and comedian Al Murray.Photo supplied by BNTVA.
Doug Hern, journalist Susie Boniface, Sandie Hern, nuclear test veteran's widow Shirley Denson and comedian Al Murray.Photo supplied by BNTVA.

Pete said: "It's absolutely brilliant that somebody has taken up our cause, as well as the important of it.

"Labour MP Owen Smith has done an amazing job to make our case and bring the Labour Party on board which we're over the moon about because we need support at the highest possible level."

Journalist Kath Sansom, of campaign group Sling the Mesh, said: "The group is delighted that the Labour Party is taking women's suffering seriously and has pledged to support us.

"We have 8,000 members in our support group who are suffering irreversible, life-changing complications like those experienced by Steph Williams.

"When a woman is mesh-injured, it doesn't just affect her, it affects her whole family as well.

"Therefore, to know that our voices have been heard at the Labour Party Conference this year has given members of the group comfort because we don't want the mums of tomorrow to go through what we have done."

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