Contaminated blood victims must be told full truth – MP
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