An MP has called for council officers to be disciplined after a disabled woman was told to remove asbestos from her kitchen by herself.
In a letter to Birmingham's cabinet member for housing Coun John Lines, Steve McCabe (Lab, Hall Green) said the mistake, where a letter was sent to arthritis sufferer Georgina Bennett, should be viewed as a case of "gross negligence".
Ms Bennett, aged 57, of Honeybourne Road in Sheldon, was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a severe lung infection and digestive problems after it emerged there was asbestos present in her council property kitchen.
After being discharged, she found a letter from the council telling her to "rip and seal large pieces, to remove cement and asbestos materials with as little breakage as possible, to
damp down with water debris and seal it together with any similar pieces of asbestos in heavy duty plastic bags."
Ms Bennett was left confused after originally being told workmen would clear the asbestos from the house before her return from hospital.
Last week, the council admitted the letter was sent by mistake and a spokeswoman said: "We would like to reas-sure Ms Bennett that she does
not have to remove asbestos from her kitchen. Arrangements are already in hand for works to be carried out and operatives will visit tomorrow to explain how and when the asbestos will be removed."
But Mr McCabe said more needed to be done to prevent further complications in the future. He said: "I note that the council has since acknowledged that this advice should never have been given and I assume the council acknowledges that had Ms Bennett have followed this course of action, she would have placed herself at risk of exposure to friable asbestos with a potential risk of contracting mesothelioma later in life.
"Clearly this is a case of gross negligence on the part of the council officer involved and in this instance it is a matter of luck that Ms Bennett had the good sense not to follow the advice of Birmingham City Council.
"I am extremely concerned, however, that this may not have been the only time such advice has been given to a council house tenant and I seek assurances from you now that no one within my constituency of Hall Green has been advised to remove or disturb in any way asbestos from their council home.
"I also ask what disciplinary action has been taken against the council officer involved and what position that officer holds within the department."
Mr McCabe went on to ask whether an investigation was due to take place to determine how many other tenants had been given similar advice and what steps had been taken to ensure that their health over the coming 20 to 30 years will be monitored.