Grenfell survivors, bereaved family members and local residents may have seen the article in the Mirror reporting high rates of cancer among firefighters.
This will be very worrying for firefighters who helped to rescue people from the Tower and our thoughts are with them. Many people, including bereaved and survivors and those who live in the local area, may also be worried for their own health and the health of their families, particularly given the longstanding concerns in the community about the health impacts of the tragedy.
The NHS and Council want to work together with residents to provide as much assurance to the community, as we can, about the support that is in place and the steps we have taken to date to monitor the health of local people, and to listen to any further concerns and ideas they might have in terms of monitoring going forward.
We had no prior knowledge of the article, nor any research on which it may be based. We are aware that there was an academic article published by the University of Central Lancashire earlier this week about rates of disease among firefighters. The article concerned firefighters in Scotland, and did not include firefighters who attended the Grenfell tragedy.
In relation to any findings relating to firefighters who attended the Grenfell tragedy, we urge researchers to publish these in full as soon as possible so that we can consider any implications they could have for survivors and people in the local area. Levels of exposure faced by fire fighters, given the longer-term occupational risks they face, are likely to be very different from any risks faced by survivors or from those faced by people in the local community. However, we need to see the full findings from the research to provide additional advice and reassurance to survivors, bereaved family members and local people.
In the meantime, we have been working together since the fire to ensure that the right arrangements are in place to support the health of local people and to monitor key health trends. We have constantly reviewed these arrangements and will continue to do so.
The NHS already has a programme of enhanced respiratory and paediatric checks in place for survivors who left the Tower on the night and is monitoring all health conditions (including cancers) among this group. Alongside this, Public Health is working with the NHS to monitor the health of the wider population, looking at key trends and monitoring changes in health conditions (again, including cancers). This monitoring programme has been informed by the coroner’s recommendations and experts from public health, clinicians and academia.
So far this monitoring has not identified any increases in cancers. The health of these groups will continue to be closely monitored to help us understand any longer-term impacts of the tragedy.
We have sought further assurances from expert bodies to ensure we are all taking appropriate steps to help to support and monitor the health of the local population. We will continue to keep bereaved, survivors and residents informed about what we hear. If there is new evidence or findings which show additional risks, or suggestions from expert bodies about other monitoring we can introduce, we stand ready to change the approach we are taking.
What to do if you’re worried
If you are a survivor from the Tower or a bereaved relative and you are worried about your health, you should contact the NHS Dedicated Service or your GP. More information on the NHS dedicated service is available here:
If you are a local resident or were present on the night of the fire and are worried, you should contact your GP or refer yourself to the Community Enhanced Health Check Service by emailing email@example.com with your name, date of birth and contact number. The service will make contact to arrange an appointment.