Con­tam­i­nated blood vic­tims must be told full truth – MP

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

VIC­TIMS of the con­tam­i­nated blood scan­dal that claimed hun­dreds of lives must now be told the full truth about what hap­pened, Min­is­ters have been told.

Black Coun­try MP Ian Austin said the NHS failed to tell one of his con­stituents that he had been in­fected un­til years after it hap­pened.

The MP spoke fol­low­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment that there will be an in­quiry into how pa­tients with the blood-clot­ting dis­or­der haemophilia were given blood do­nated by HIV and hep­ati­tis C suf­fer­ers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The scan­dal is be­lieved to con­trib­uted to the deaths of peo­ple.

Speak­ing in the House of Com­mons, Mr Austin (Lab Dud­ley North) said: “Two of my con­stituents have two par­tic­u­lar mat­ters that they want the in­quiry to con­sider.

“First, one said that he was in­fect- have 2,400 ed with hep­ati­tis C and ex­posed to the HIV virus, but was not in­formed of that by the NHS un­til years af­ter­wards and he wants to be as­sured that the in­quiry will re­veal why the truth was hidden.

“The sec­ond wants to know about this is­sue of doc­tors and sci­en­tists be­ing paid by the drug com­pa­nies and about the pre­cise na­ture of those deals.

“He thinks that those deals have to be re­ally prop­erly and rig­or­ously ex­posed by this in­quiry, so that we can get to the bot­tom of what­ever vested in­ter­ests ex­isted dur­ing this scan­dal.”

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has an­nounced a wide-rang­ing in­quiry into the con­tam­i­nated blood scan­dal. She said the treat­ment of thou­sands of haemophil­i­acs and other pa­tients with blood prod­ucts in­fected with hep­ati­tis C and HIV was an “ap­palling tragedy” which should never have hap­pened. “Thou­sands of pa­tients ex­pected the world-class care our NHS is fa­mous for, but they were failed,” she said in a state­ment. “At least 2,400 peo­ple died and thou­sands more were ex­posed to Hep­ati­tis C and HIV, with life-chang­ing con­se­quences. “The vic­tims and their fam­i­lies who have suf­fered so much pain and hard­ship de­serve an­swers as to how this could pos­si­bly have hap­pened. “While this Gov­ern­ment has in­vested record amounts to sup­port the vic­tims, they have been de­nied those an­swers for too long and I want to put that right.” The an­nounce­ment was wel­comed by cam­paign­ers who have been press­ing for an in­quiry into the im­port of the clot­ting agent Fac­tor VIII from the US.

Much of the plasma used to make the prod­uct came from donors such as prison in­mates, who sold blood which turned out to be in­fected.

Greater Manch­ester mayor Andy Burn­ham – who as shadow home sec­re­tary cham­pi­oned the cam­paign for an in­quiry – said the an­nounce­ment was a “ma­jor break­through”, al­beit a be­lated one for peo­ple who had suf­fered for decades.

Down­ing Street said they would now open dis­cus­sions with those af­fected as to ex­actly what form the in­quiry would take.

“Con­sul­ta­tion will now take place with those af­fected to de­cide ex­actly what form the in­quiry will take, such as a Hills­bor­ough-style in­de­pen­dent panel or a judge-led statu­tory in­quiry,” the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fi­cial spokesman said.

> NHS blood bags and (be­low) Dud­ley North MP Ian Austin

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