Tainted blood debate in Parliament welcomed by St Albans haemophiliac
- Credit: Archant
Parliament will today (Thursday) debate a tainted blood scandal branded an NHS “disaster” which affected thousands of people including a St Albans haemophiliac.
The mum-of-two was one of about 5,000 people with bleeding disorders infected with 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.
About 2,000 people have since died as a result of receiving the tainted NHS-supplied blood or blood products.
The woman, who wants to be referred to as “Nicky” because of the stigma attached to the virus, believes she received the contaminated blood during a tonsillectomy when she was just aged nine in 1980.
Despite suffering poor health since then, she has not received any compensation from the Skipton Fund – a UK-wide ex-gratia payment scheme established to make payments to certain people infected with hepatitis as a result of the tainted blood.
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The lack of compensation and long-unanswered questions over the scandal, dubbed “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” by Lord Robert Winston, was last Tuesday discussed at a backbench business committee meeting.
Speaking to the committee to gain its approval for the parliamentary debate alongside St Albans MP Anne Main, the MP for North East Beds, Alistair Burt, described the debacle as a health service “scandal”.
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He said there was ongoing concern about the use of contaminated blood as, “it has never satisfactorily been dealt with in the minds of the victims and is an unclosed issue.
“There has been no public inquiry in England, no opportunity to question directly and have answers from department of health representatives.”
However, a Scottish public inquiry into Hepatitis C/HIV acquired infection from NHS treatment in Scotland with blood and blood products will soon report its findings.
Mr Burt said he wanted politicians to debate the “serious situation” before the close of Parliament ahead of the General Election.
Mrs Main, speaking in support of Nicky, said victims felt forgotten and that justice was being sought for all those affected, “not just a few”.
Welcoming today’s debate, Nicky has urged the government to “do the right thing and bring some form of closure to the victims of this tragedy.”
She said it was important politicians understood that she and other haemophiliacs were exposed to many different viruses and pathogens, not just Hepatitis C and HIV.