St Albans tainted blood scandal victim fears government will never offer compensation
- Credit: Archant
A St Albans victim of the tainted blood scandal, which has seen fellow haemophiliacs killed by cheap, dodgy blood products the NHS bought from American convicts, fears she will never be compensated.
The mother-of-two, who wants to be referred to as ‘Nicky’, has campaigned hard for fair treatment 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.
In March this year the Prime Minister apologised on behalf of the British government and promised to release £25 million in financial support for victims immediately and to increase that amount after the general election in May.
Yet the £25 million has not materialised and in July politicians delayed making further decisions until after the autumn spending review last Wednesday (25).
But Nicky’s hopes were dashed again after it became clear that Chancellor George Osborne would not deliver on those promises.
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The 44 year old said: “It was not mentioned in the autumn review. Everyone was hoping something would be said, but nothing happened. I’m not surprised – hopefully something will be said after Christmas.
“I would love to pursue legal action, because it is a crime against humanity. The whole thing is so corrupt, it is unbelievable.
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“If I could afford to, I would launch legal action, just for some justice. There has been no help for me.”
While undergoing an operation in hospital as a child, she was one of about 5,000 people infected with Hepatitis C after being given transfusions of blood products procured from high-risk donors from the cheapest sources possible, including prostitutes, habitual drug users and prisoners.
About 1,200 of those people were infected with HIV, many of whom have died from their infections.
Nicky blames the potentially fatal treatment for causing a catalogue of illnesses over the years, which robbed her of her childhood and as an adult, has left her suffering constant pain, with little or no energy.
She explained: “The psychological impact this has had on me is indescribable, along with the lack of follow-up care, or even a chance to ask questions.
“Although I’ve supposedly cleared Hep C, my last blood test came back ‘equivocal’ which means it doesn’t say I haven’t got Hep C, but then it doesn’t mean I haven’t either [the antibody test did not produce a clear positive or negative result].
“None of the professionals want to talk about what happened to many of us, let alone answer our questions.
“I struggle to trust any health care professional.”
Nicky has now sent a letter of complaint to the Department of Health, which is to run a full public consultation on the health scandal, and will allow all infected and affected people like her to provide comments.
St Albans MP Anne Main, who over recent years has been highlighting Nicky’s plight and championing fair compensation for her, said she would continue “making my views and those of Nicky heard”.
She added: “I hope the Department of Health will be listening.”
Mrs Main, who has been in constant contact with the all-party group on contaminated blood and the department, welcomed an assurance from the Minister of Health that money previously allocated for compensation could be rolled over to the next financial year.
She was also pleased to hear confirmation that the current schemewas “not fit for purpose, and that the intention is to have comprehensive reform of the scheme”.
Campaigners’ key objectives include:
- Removing ‘staged’ payments for Hepatitis C sufferers handed out depending on the progression of their illness. This sees some receive nothing - including St Albans tainted blood victim Nicky - under a system that has been described as discriminatory.
- A proper financial payment for widows and bereaved family members.
- Financial support for the wives, husbands and carers of those still living.
- Full access to the latest drugs and treatments for those affected.
Glenn Wilkinson, of Contaminated Blood Campaign, said: “We feel grossly let down by David Cameron and by the Department of Health. We have been led to believe that this is going to be sorted out once and for all by both parties and neither has held to their commitment and that is absolutely unacceptable by any standards. I can just see a lot of people feeling very, very let down.
Liz Carroll, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, added: “We have called for an independent human rights expert to be involved in the negotiation and discussions on a settlement and possibly an actuary who can look at what the financial impact has been on families’ incomes.”