This is a follow up to my previous post about contaminated blood. Let's hope someone in government is listening.
Patients whose lives were devastated after being treated with contaminated NHS blood have urged the government to consider their suffering over the last three decades - and apologise. They have expressed anger and frustration about the lack of recognition for their plight, and why they seek a much sought for apology. What they say about the lack of support from ministers and MPs is quite shocking.
Glenn Wilkinson, from the Contaminated Blood Campaign group, has mild haemophilia and contracted Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood during a routine dental operation at the age of 19. He was an engineer, but is now unable to work. He says:
"Ninety-six people died in the Hillsborough disaster, and over 2,000 died as a result of being given contaminated blood and blood products, which equates, in effect to over 20 Hillsborough disasters, and the death toll for those that have been infected with contaminated blood and blood products continues to rise.
"Over 5,000 UK citizens have been infected with deadly pathogens, including HIV, HCV, vCJD and many other pathogens as a result of receiving these contaminated NHS blood. Even though the death toll amongst those infected with contaminated blood and blood products is greater than any other peacetime disaster in the UK, we have never been given the benefit of a government inquiry, nor an apology, nor any compensation."
"There was an independent report conducted by the late Lord Archer of Sandwell, which lasted almost two years and was completed in 2009. This report showed, amongst many other things, that the UK government knew that the blood products they were giving us at that time were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, and also that the government failed to warn people about these pathogens before administering these blood products to them. The Archer Inquiry also found that human beings were used as 'guinea pigs', without their consent.
"Unfortunately, the Archer Inquiry was not authorised by the government (it was not a full Judicial Inquiry) and therefore did not have all the power of law which would have enabled it to compel individuals (including MP's and ministers) involved at the time, to attend to give evidence. MP's and ministers involved that could have helped were asked to attend, but refused, even though the rooms in which the evidence was being taken, was only across the road from Whitehall.
The late Lord Morris, famously said at the time that "terminally ill people travelled to Westminster to give evidence from all over the country, and yet people in Whitehall were not prepared to cross the road.
"When the previous health minister, Andrew Lansley, announced a support package he claimed would end the anomalies between HIV and HCV victims, the real truth was that only 20% of Hepatitis C victims - those in the so-called Stage 2 category who can prove a certain level of liver disease - were awarded ongoing financial assistance in line with HIV victims. The remaining 80% of HCV victims, those in the so-called Stage 1 category, were excluded from this because the review panel ignored conclusive research proving that Hepatitis C also causes incapacitating disease unrelated to the liver."
Owen Savill, a haemophiliac who was also given contaminated blood, says:
"Why, after 30 years of campaigning and banging on doors, do we still have to deal with the fall out of over 2,000 deaths, 3,000 more infected and all without any form of justice, public inquiry nor recompense?
"You will be told that the situation has been resolved and that a settlement package has been put together. But you actually need to be dying to be eligible and only about 3% of us are actually in that position right now. However, battling chronic and severe illness for 25 - 30 years can have very far reaching, severe, debilitating and job losing consequences. And that is on top of already living with a disabling and chronic condition. Did you know that unless you have been affected by Hep C and/or HIV that haemophiliacs don't qualify for free prescriptions despite being in almost constant need of painkillers and anti-arthritic drugs. Kind of says a lot about the way successive government view the haemophiliac population.
"An apology would be great, and like Hillsborough would simply mark the start of doing something to resolve the situation."
Please view this video to hear haemophiliac Mark Ward talking about his life with contaminated blood. And please also read this page, which makes very sober reading, and is in memory of those who tragically lost their lives from contaminated blood.