Light at end of the tunnel for St Albans victim of tainted blood scandal?

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for victims of the tainted blood scandal?

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for victims of the tainted blood scandal? - Credit: Archant

Victims of the contaminated blood scandal dating back decades, including a St Albans mum, have been asked to take part in a long-awaited government consultation.

People have until April 15 to respond to the “Infected blood: Reform of Financial and other Support” examination, aimed to help those affected by hepatitis C or HIV from historic NHS blood treatments.

MP Jane Ellison, parliamentary Under Secretary of State for public health, recently announced the launch of the consultation, proposing a new compensation scheme.

Its conclusions could affect a local mother-of-two, ‘Nicky’, who has campaigned hard for fair treatment, and compensation, from the Government after she and thousands of others received contaminated blood in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, despite misgivings from some medical experts at the time.

She has been rocked by the death of fellow haemophiliacs who ended up killed as a result of being given cheap, dodgy blood products the NHS bought from the likes of American convicts.

About 1,200 of those people were infected with HIV, many of whom have died from their infections, and Nicky was one of 5,000 infected with hepatitis C after being given transfusions of blood products while in hospital.

Nicky, 44, said she feared that, despite the consultation, she will never receive a penny in compensation.

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She added: “I will take part in the consultation, but I think it will fall on deaf ears.”

Nicky said patients were also put at risk of contracting vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), “an awful disease, yet we received no support or counselling, and this in itself affects us with insurances and hospital procedures, as well as the mental health impact on us.

“We have to declare this, and face discrimination with this. The whole thing is such a mess. We as haemophiliacs were multiple-infected with different viruses and pathogens, and every health issue we suffer is always one which baffles doctors because they do not know how to treat us.”

St Albans MP Anne Main said: “I am pleased that, not before time, the government is consulting on the matter. This is a long-running injustice.

“The extra money that will be allocated to those affected by contaminated blood is to be welcomed. But the money must reach those who need it.”

Anne added: “I have sadly seen cases where those affected, who need the payments, have missed out due to some technicality on the old scheme. This is a matter I hope the new scheme will address.

“I would encourage any constituent who has been affected, or has particular knowledge in this area, to respond to the consultation and make your views to the minister known.”

What are the proposed reforms?

Since 1988, government has provided some support for people affected by HIV and/or hepatitis C through treatment with NHS-supplied contaminated blood or blood products.

But not all victims of that tainted blood have received compensation, and this injustice is at the heart of the just launched consultation, being led by the Department of Health.

St Albans tainted blood victim Nicky said while she would welcome any changes and acknowledgement of the UK’s “worst NHS treatment disaster, I am rather sceptical as previous inquiries and talk by the government have not been positive.

“When I was a child, I was infected with hepatitis B, C, G and God knows what else.”

Nicky considers it is “tantamount to abuse” that she and others who received the contaminated blood were not informed of the health risks.

Before heat treatment of blood products was introduced in 1985, and a screening test for blood donations brought in, in 1991, around 4,700 people with bleeding disorders (such as haemophilia) and around 28,000 others were exposed to hepatitis C in the UK. About 1,300 people were infected with HIV.

The reforms proposed by government include:

• £100 million extra funding made available

• 12-week consultation on the new payments suggested

• Access to new hepatitis C treatments