St Albans contaminated blood victim claims inquiry was a whitewash

PUBLISHED: 14:55 14 April 2015

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A St Albans mum-of-two among thousands given contaminated blood products by the NHS is upset and angry at a recent report on the scandal and the government’s lacklustre response to it.

The woman, who wants to be referred to as ‘Nicky’, unwittingly had her life put on the line when, as a child, she received a blood-clotting product in 1980 after a tonsillectomy.

In later years the haemophiliac discovered that she was one of about 5,000 people with bleeding disorders exposed to Hepatitis C after being given dodgy blood products procured from high risk donors including prison inmates in the United States in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Prior to the dissolution of Parliament for next month’s election, the findings of a public inquiry into Hepatitis C/HIV acquired infection from NHS treatment with blood and blood products in Scotland, chaired by Lord Penrose, were discussed.

Nicky and other survivors of the tainted blood scandal had hoped for a strong response from MPs and the establishment of an adequate compensation package.

But, Nicky said, “The Lord Penrose report appears to be a total whitewash. Campaigners are upset, angry and still want answers.”

After spending six years reviewing more than 118,000 documents and over 150 statements from patients and relatives Lord Penrose made just one recommendation – that anyone in Scotland who had a blood transfusion before 1991 should be tested for Hepatitis C if they have not already done so.

Echoing criticism from the Tainted Blood campaign group, Nicky said that after decades of ill health and the loss of more than 2,000 lives, sufferers expected more than a 30-second apology from the Prime Minister.

She said: “One of my friends gave evidence and like all of us, he is devastated. When such a disaster happens, you want answers. This has had a massive impact on those affected. I’m upset for other sufferers who are worse off than me.

“If this is not a whitewash, I don’t know what is.”

On March 26, during debate on the inquiry, Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham, MP, said: “As it comes to an end this Parliament has not made enough progress on perhaps the greatest injustice of them all: the loss and ruination of many thousands of lives through the use of contamininated blood.”

In response to the inquiry, the government has promised to provide up to £25 million in 2015/16 to support any transitional arrangement to a different system of financial assistance – Nicky has not received any compensation despite suffering poor health.

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