Parliament to launch review into tainted blood - St Albans MP calls for justice
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners seeking justice for the victims of a tainted blood scandal dating back 40 years have garnered support from Parliament for a review.
Politicians recently debated the NHS “disaster” which affected thousands of people including a St Albans mum-of-two, who is a haemophiliac.
She and others unwittingly put their lives on the line when they received what was supposed to be life-saving products – including blood – later found to have been contaminated, as they were procured from high risk donors including prison inmates in the United States in the 1970s and ‘80s.
About 2,000 people died as a result.
In Parliament the MP for North East Beds Alistair Burt received support for a review of the circumstances surrounding the passing of infection via blood products to those with haemophilia and others.
He referred to a report which said that by the mid-70s it was known in medical and government circles that such products carried a danger of infection with hepatitis and that commercially manufactured products from the USA were particularly suspect.
By the mid-1980s there were warnings of a similar situation in respect of HIV.
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But the products continued to be imported and used, “often with tragic consequences”.
The MP continued: “Efforts by the state to redeem itself have been hampered by a chronic inability to admit the past, to ensure that all the material was available for public scrutiny.
“Its evasion of a public inquiry [and] the loss of key papers...have left a mark of suspicion that lasts to this day.
“In terms of a death toll, this is the 15th biggest peacetime disaster in British history in which the Black Death, at 3.5 million, is the worst.”
There has been no apology to those affected.
St Albans MP Anne Main said: “This is about justice, and justice delayed is justice denied. This is about the trust that we and our families put in the NHS, but that trust was broken.
“That failure by the state has been left to fester for too long and it has left them with a legacy that is a disgrace and a stain on this House and on the NHS.”
She told MPs how the St Albans mum was given a blood-clotting product in 1980 after a tonsillectomy, which “was by then known to be contaminated”.
When her health deteriorated afterwards, she was told her problems were psychological.
But tests revealed later that she had suffered Hepatitis C as a consequence.