St Albans victim hoping for answers in new NHS contaminated blood scandal inquiry

Factor VIII was often contaminated with diseases.

Factor VIII was often contaminated with diseases. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans victim is hoping a new inquiry into the NHS contaminated blood scandal, beginning today in London, will bring some long-awaited answers.

Haemophiliac Nicky, who would prefer to only use her first name, was one of more than 4,600 people to catch hepatitis C from Factor VIII, a blood plasma treatment dolled out by the NHS in the 1970s and 80s.

It had been created by mixing donations from multiple people in the US, where prisoners and drug users were paid to give blood.

Any one person carrying hepatitis C or the Aids virus HIV would infect a whole batch.

It is estimated that 4,670 haemophiliacs were infected with hepatitis C and 1,243 contracted HIV.

Nicky recovered in 1997, but many victims were not so lucky - using Factor VIII proved fatal for more than 2,000 people.

In a 2017 BBC Panorama episode, it was revealed that risks of Factor VIII were known before its use was stopped. At the time, patients’ blood started to be tested without patients’ consent or knowledge.

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There has been a compensation scheme for those affected, and a previous inquiry in 2009, but a second inquiry opens today at Fleetbank House in London’s Salisbury Square.

Chair Sir Brian Langstaff and lead counsel Jenni Richards QC will make their opening statements, before the first three witnesses are called.

Nicky said: “It has been a long time coming. I guess from my point of view, I have to wait and see what happens but I am hoping I will be called to give evidence.

“I have lost a bit of heart in it, because we have been campaigning for so long, trying to get our voices heard and I am thinking, ‘Are we going to be let down like we have been before?’, but I am trying to keep a little bit of hope.

“I would like an admission that fault was found, that all along these professionals and the government knew that the products they were giving out were contaminated and the haemophilics were used as a bunch of guinea pigs, which is what we believe.”

She also believes the scandal is still ongoing and that both her son and daughter’s blood has been recently tested without consent.

Nicky added: “It is not just about what has happened, it is about the future too.”