News Man to sue govern­ment over blood scan­dal that left his fa­ther with HIV

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

A COVEN­TRY man is tak­ing land­mark le­gal ac­tion against the govern­ment af­ter his dad be­came in­fected with HIV through treat­ment with con­tam­i­nated blood.

Jonathan Evans died at the age of just 31 af­ter re­ceiv­ing blood in­fected with the deadly dis­ease dur­ing his treat­ment for se­vere haemophilia.

He was one of thou­sands who died or were af­fected by what some have called the worst disas­ter in the his­tory of the NHS.

And now his son, who was just four years old when his dad died, has de­cided to launch a le­gal case against the govern­ment al­leg­ing neg­li­gence and breach of statu­tory duty.

Ja­son, from Coven­try, told BBC Panorama: “I’ve now de­cided to in­struct a le­gal firm to take a case al­leg­ing neg­li­gence and a breach of statu­tory duty against the govern­ment and var­i­ous bod­ies for their neg­li­gence and their role in this scan­dal that ul­ti­mately led to in­fect­ing my fa­ther with HIV for a prod­uct they knew to be dan­ger­ous.

“It could be an ex­tremely im­por­tant case, be­cause if suc­cess­ful we’ll set a prece­dent.”

Ja­son’s story was told on last week’s Panorama in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Britain’s con­tam­i­nated blood scan­dal, which saw more than 2,000 die af­ter re­ceiv­ing dodgy blood prod­ucts more than 25 years ago.

The NHS treat­ments that were sup­posed to help them, in­stead in­fected them with deadly viruses such a HIV and Hepati­tis C.

Even now, new vic­tims are be­ing di­ag­nosed.

Hae­mophil­i­acs were still of­fered a blood clot­ting treat­ment called ‘Fac­tor 8,’ made from the plasma of thou­sands of blood do­na­tions.

If just one donor had an in­fec­tion it would con­tam­i­nate the whole batch. It’s thought thou­sands of other pa­tients have been in­fected through blood trans­fu­sions.

In Eng­land and Wales, most ‘Fac­tor 8’ was im­ported from Amer­ica where peo­ple were of­ten paid to give blood, in­creas­ing the risk of in­fec­tion.

Ja­son has been left with just a few fleet­ing mem­o­ries of his fa­ther and said: “My first mem­ory of my dad is the last time I ever saw was my birth­day, I was four years old and I re­mem­ber walk­ing into the room and he was on a bed.

“I re­mem­ber just be­ing stood in that room for a pe­riod of time and just kind of look­ing at him but not re­ally un­der­stand­ing what was hap­pen­ing.”

Ja­son thinks as the AIDS cri­sis un­folded, pa­tients should have been given more in­for­ma­tion about the po­ten­tial risks of treat­ment.

“I think the mo­ment there was a sus­pi­cion that the AIDS virus may be in these prod­ucts, pa­tients should have been given the choice of whether they wanted to take that gam­ble and play Rus­sian roulette with their life,” he said.

“I can al­most guar­an­tee you that 99 per cent of them would not have taken that gam­ble.”

Ja­son says his fa­ther was also tested for HIV with­out his knowl­edge – and not told the re­sult un­til seven months later.

At the time there was no guid­ance for doc­tors on test­ing pa­tients for HIV or in­form­ing them of the re­sults.

There have been two in­quiries since the ‘Fac­tor 8’ disas­ter; the in­de­pen­dent Archer in­quiry that re­ported in 2009 and an in­quiry in Scot­land chaired by Lord Pen­rose, which re­ported in 2015.

The Govern­ment main­tains the view that there is no need for a fur­ther pub­lic in­quiry in the UK.

The Depart­ment of Health said: “This was an un­prece­dented tragedy and we are con­tin­u­ing to work closely with those af­fected to make sure the right sup­port is in place for them.

“We have more than dou­bled our an­nual spend on pay­ments to peo­ple af­fected since 2015, com­mit­ting an ad­di­tional £125m, as well as pro­vid­ing an an­nual pay­ment to all in­fected in­di­vid­u­als.

“This is sig­nif­i­cantly more than any pre­vi­ous govern­ment has pro­vided for those af­fected by this tragedy.

“We will con­tinue to lis­ten and are cur­rently con­sult­ing on new mea­sures to ex­tend the group of in­di­vid­u­als who ben­e­fit from higher an­nual pay­ments.”

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